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Volume 40, Number 6, December 2007

Clinical manifestations of actinomycosis in Southern Taiwan

Yung-Hsing Wang, Hung-Chin Tsai, Susan Shin-Jung Lee, Ming-Hsin Mai, Shue-Ren Wann, Yao-Shen Chen, Yung-Ching Liu
Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, Kaohsiung; and 2School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

Received: April 25, 2006    Revised: August 14, 2006    Accepted: August 22, 2006   


Corresponding author:

Dr. Yung-Ching Liu, Section of Infectious Diseases and Department of Medicine, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, 386 Ta-Chung 1st Road, Kaohsiung 813, Taiwan. E-mail: Dr. Yung-Ching Liu This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it



Background and purpose: 

Actinomycosis is an uncommon and frequently misdiagnosed infection that may present as an acute or indolent process. Even when clinical suspicion is high, the disease is commonly confused with other chronic inflammatory diseases and malignancy. An early diagnosis helps the clinician in deciding treatment and can avoid physical morbidity such as unwarranted surgery.




We retrospectively evaluated the histopathology and selected clinical information on all cases of actinomycosis that occurred at Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan from 1993 to 2005. Data on the demographic characteristics, predisposing conditions, clinical presentations, diagnosis and treatment were analyzed.




A total 36 cases of actinomycosis were identified and evaluated. The mean age of patients was 52.14 ± 13.28 years, and the male-to-female ratio was 1:1.1. Only three types of actinomycosis were found in this study: cervicofacial, at an incidence of 31%; thoracic (33%); and pelvic (36%). The clinical manifestations depended upon the region of infection; the most frequent presentations of cervicofacial, thoracic and pelvic actinomycosis were cutaneous soft tissue swelling with drainage sinus formation (55%), hemotypsis (75%) and abnormal vaginal spotting (54%), respectively. The most common initial laboratory abnormalities were normochromic anemia (69%) and leukocytosis (25%). While most patients had no history of a foreign body, all pelvic actinomycotic patients had a history of intrauterine device use. Nineteen patients (53%) had no comorbid conditions and 11 patients (31%) had malignancy. Most patients were initially diagnosed as malignancy (56%). All patients with actinomycosis were diagnosed by histopathologic findings. Twenty two patients (61%) were treated by surgery combined with antibiotics, 11 patients (31%) by surgery only and 3 patients (8%) by antibiotics only. No recurrence or mortality occurred.




Actinomycosis should be included in the differential diagnosis when patients present with chronic drainage sinus, chronic hemoptysis and abnormal vaginal spotting with use of intrauterine devices.



Key words:

Actinomyces; Actinomycosis; Chronic disease; Risk factors



J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2007;40:487-492.