Diagnosis of pelvic actinomycosis by fine needle aspiration. A case report

Acta Cytol. 1984 Sep-Oct;28(5):601-4.


A case of pelvic abscess caused by Actinomyces in a patient wearing an intrauterine contraceptive device is presented. The diagnosis was established preoperatively by transvaginal fine needle aspiration. The cytologic, surgical and histologic findings are discussed.

PIP: This report presents a case of pelvic actinomycotic infection that was accurately diagnosed preoperatively by means of fine needle aspiration. The patient was a 40-year-old black female, gravida 6, para 6, who presented to the emergency room complaining of intermittent, crampy lower abdominal pain of approximately 1 month's duration. She also complained of a recent onset of urinary frequency and urgency without dysuria as well as a change in bowel habits, with recent constipation. Review of the patient's medical history was notable for the placement of a Dalkon Shield IUD 10 years before without subsequent removal, a history of irregular menses in the past year, and treatment for gonorrhea 10 years previously. The patient's last menstrual period was 2 weeks prior to admission. She denied fever and night sweats but had lost 20 pounds in the past 2-3 months. Vital signs were normal. Pelvic examination revealed a firm, fixed uterus, approximately the size of a 14-week pregnancy, and an associated mass extending to the left and inferiorly into the rectovaginal septum. An intravenous pyelogram showed left hydronephrosis and hydroureter, with compression of the ureter at the level of the sacrum. Sigmoidoscopy revealed extrinsic compression of the rectum at 12 cm, the some mucosal edema. A CT scan of the pelvis disclosed an 8 cm mass in continuity with the uterus extending into the lower pelvis, with possible focal erosion of the sacrum. The clinical impression was advanced cervical carcinoma. Transvaginal fine needle aspiration was performed using a 21-gauge spinal needle and a Franzen needle guide. Following a diagnosis of actinomycotic abscess, the patient was placed on tetracycline, due to her penicillin allergy, and taken to surgery. The abdomen was opened and revealed a slightly enlarged uterus. The uterus and cervix were adherent to the left pelvic wall and posteriorly to the rectum by firm, friable tissue. The left fallopian tube and ovary were adherent to this . With some difficulty the uterus was freed, and a total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy were performed. The postoperative course was unremarkable, and the patient was discharged on tetracycline. A morphologic diagnosis of actinomycotic infection with abscess formation was made. Sections of the left parametrium revealed multiple microabscesses and sinus tracts surrounded by abundant granulation tissue. Some of the abscesses contained actinomycotic organisms. Chronic endometritis and cervicitis as well as acute and chronic left salpingitis were documented.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinomycosis / diagnosis*
  • Actinomycosis / pathology
  • Adult
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Uterine Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Diseases / pathology
  • Uterine Diseases / surgery