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Mycetoma refers to a chronic and progressively destructive granulomatous disease. The defining clinical triad comprises:
localized mass-like soft tissue injury with
draining sinuses, that
discharge grains of contagious material
It is one of the 17 "neglected tropical diseases", as defined by WHO 3.
The disease is not notifiable. It is neglected and the true prevalence is not known.
Distribution is worldwide. Endemic areas with the highest prevalence are seen in tropical and subtropical regions ("mycetoma belt"), including 3,4:
Indian subcontinent (Madurella mycetomatis dominates)
Africa (Streptomyces somaliensis dominates)
Central and South America (Nocardia brasiliensis dominates)
Most commonly affected are young adults, 20-40 years of age. There is male preponderance, explained by occupational exposure to outdoor environment (colonized soil and plants). Infection may also occur in travelers to endemic areas unaware of or ignoring advices 3,4.
Predisposing factors include 3,4:
low socioeconomic status
occupations with risk for contact such as farming
lack of protective clothing or shoes
Given the slow disease progression, painless nature and low socioeconomic status of the most often affected patients, presentation is usually late. The classical triad of painless soft-tissue swelling, draining sinuses and purulent discharge is considered pathognomonic.
Common sites of initial or extended infection are the extremities, back, and gluteal region.
Infection occurs by saprophytes colonizing soil or plants (see above), inoculating via a site of minor trauma, most often in the foot and facilitated by a lack of protective clothing or shoes (bare-footed).
Initial infection progresses to chronic granulomatous infection with development of the characterizing triad of abscesses, draining sinuses and discharging grains in its course. Opportunistic suprainfection and/or destruction of adjacent bony and visceral structures may also occur.
Usually infection remains localized but it may rarely disseminate and involve any organ 5.
Mycetomas are subdivided by their causative agents
eumycetoma or eumycotic mycetoma
etiologic agent fungi
most often Madurella mycetomatis (maduromycosis)
actinomycetoma or actinomycotic mycetoma
etiologic agent filamentous bacteria
most often Nocardia brasiliensis and
Diagnosis is yielded by microscopic examination of grains (either in purulent discharges or by biopsy), which is essential to perform antimicrobial susceptibility testing for treatment options.
Imaging may provide mapping of local disease extension or reveal additional sites of infection 5.
For imaging appearances see maduromycosis.
Treatment and prognosis
Possible deformation and loss of function may eventually be fatal. Treatment means are usually conservative and directed to causing agents, however, the frequently encountered late presentation often necessitates surgery, e.g. amputation.
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- 3. http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/diseases/mycetoma/en/
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- 6. Nooshin K. Brinster, Vincent Liu, A. Hafeez Diwan, and Phillip H. McKee, Dermatopathology: High-Yield Pathology, 245-246 Copyright © 2011 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.