Atypical Mycobacterial Cervical Lymphadenitis in Children
B. Klin, I. Boldur, J. Sandbank, Z. Schpirer, I. Vinograd
Depts. of Pediatric Surgery, Microbiology and Pathology, Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, Zerifin, and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University
Scrofula (mycobacterial cervical lymphadenitis) has been well-known for thousands of years. Atypical mycobacteria were first categorized by Timpe and Runyon in 1954. Treatment has varied over the centuries, from exclusion therapy in ancient Greece, through digitalis, iodide, chemotherapy, and surgical excision. The varied differential diagnosis and consequent diagnostic and therapeutic challenges make reassessment of this almost forgotten disease necessary.
21 patients with typical mycobacterial cervical lymphaden„itis seen in over the past 5 years were reviewed. Age distribution ranged from 1-14 years, with peak incidence at 4 years; 9 were boys and 12 girls. Most presented with nontender, palpable neck masses and minimal constitutional complaints. Adenopathy was unilateral in all cases but 2. Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare and M. fortuitum were the main causative organisms. All underwent excision of the affected nodes. Long-term follow-up has been uneventful, except for 1 case of local recurrence requiring re-excision.
This study emphasizes the marked variability in the clinical presentation of scrofula in children, stressing the importance of the differential diagnosis between tuberculous and atypical mycobacterial cervical lymphadenitis. The treatment of choice for the latter is complete excision of the affected nodes. Other treatment is followed by recurrence and unnecessary complications and should be avoided.