CHRISMED Journal of Health and Research

CASE REPORT
Year
: 2015  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 298--301

Pulmonary actinomycosis masquerading as a malignant lung tumor


Ved Prakash1, Surya Kant1, Ashwini Kumar Mishra1, Ajay Kumar Verma1, Saumya Shukla2, SNS Yadav3,  
1 Department of Pulmonary Medicine, King George Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Pathology, RML Institute, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 Department of Medicine, Balrampur Hospital, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ajay Kumar Verma
Department of Pulmonary Medicine, King George«SQ»s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
India

Abstract

Pulmonary actinomycosis being a rare disease is an important and challenging diagnosis to make. The disease is commonly confused with conditions such as chronic suppurative lung diseases and malignancy thus requiring a high index of suspicion. Considerable psychological and physical morbidity, including unwarranted surgery can be prevented with an early and accurate diagnosis. We hereby present a case of 60-year-old male who presented to a tertiary care hospital with the chief complaint of hemoptysis and chest pain. On evaluating for the cause of hemoptysis, the clinical and radiologic findings were suggestive of lung cancer. The diagnosis of actinomycosis was determined by computed tomography guided transthoracic lung biopsy. Respiratory physicians should be aware of this important differential when investigating patients for persistent pulmonary shadowing.



How to cite this article:
Prakash V, Kant S, Mishra AK, Verma AK, Shukla S, Yadav S. Pulmonary actinomycosis masquerading as a malignant lung tumor.CHRISMED J Health Res 2015;2:298-301


How to cite this URL:
Prakash V, Kant S, Mishra AK, Verma AK, Shukla S, Yadav S. Pulmonary actinomycosis masquerading as a malignant lung tumor. CHRISMED J Health Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Aug 11 ];2:298-301
Available from: https://www.cjhr.org/text.asp?2015/2/3/298/158722


Full Text

 INTRODUCTION



Actinomyces organisms are anaerobic or microaerophilic, non-spore-forming, Gram-positive bacilli [1] deriving its name from the resemblance to fungi. [2] Among six pathogenic species of Actinomyces spp., Actinomyces israelii is the most common human pathogen. It usually involves oral and cervicofacial areas. About 15% of the infections caused by Actinomyces involve the thorax. [3],[4] Pulmonary actinomycosis may presents as a pulmonary infiltrate or a mass. The most common symptoms are chest pain, productive cough, and dyspnea. These non-specific clinical and radiologic presentations make pulmonary actinomycosis difficult to be diagnosed and often lead to misinterpretation as malignancy rather than an infective process. We hereby present a case of 60-year-old male who presented with findings suggestive of lung cancer but eventually the diagnosis of actinomycosis was determined by computed tomography guided transthoracic lung biopsy. Respiratory physicians should be aware of this important differential when investigating patients for persistent pulmonary shadowing.

 Case Report



A 60-year-old male, nonhypertensive non diabetic presented to our department with chief complaints of hemoptysis and severe chest pain for 7 months. General examination was nonsignificant and on respiratory examination there were findings of a space occupying lesion on the left upper hemithorax that is decreased breath sound and dullness on percussion. Routine blood investigations were within normal limits. X-ray chest confirmed the suspicion of left upper zone Intrathoracic mass [Figure 1]. He was a chronic bidi smoker (smoking index 1000 and pack years 50).{Figure 1}

Considering the age, smoking habit, and clinical profile, there was a high suspicion of any lung malignancy particularly bronchogenic carcinoma (BACA). So a contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) thorax was ordered to further evaluate the etiology which revealed an ill-defined heterogeneously enhancing soft tissue attenuation lesion with irregular margin (measuring approx. 5.5 × 4.2 × 5.0 cm) in size in left upper lobe. The lesion was also infiltrating the overlying pleura and was seen abutting with left subclavian and common carotid artery [Figure 2]. Features suggestive of lymphangitis carcinomatosa were also present [Figure 3]. All these features were in favor of diagnosis of a neoplastic etiology-BACA. The other possible differentials that were in our mind were tubercular intrathoracic mass, Askin's tumor and neurogenic tumors.{Figure 2}{Figure 3}

To confirm lung malignancy and for further subtyping CT guided fine-needle aspiration cytology and biopsy was done. To our utmost surprise the histopathology revealed multiple periodic acid Schiff positive colonies on a background of dense neutrophillic infiltrate confirming actinomycosis [Figure 4]. Patient was started on i.m. Benzyl Penicillin 5 million IU/day and he is performing well. He has now got relief from hemoptysis and chest pain and is in our regular follow-up.{Figure 4}

This case emphasizes that respiratory physicians should be aware of actinomycosis as an important differential diagnosis when investigating patients suspected for lung malignancy. Identification of Actinomycosis at an early stage will lead to a reduction in morbidity and mortality as the disease has an excellent prognosis on treatment and will also help in differentiating it from BACA that has a grave prognosis.

 DISCUSSION



Actinomyces organisms are anaerobic or microaerophilic, non-spore-forming, Gram-positive bacilli [1] deriving its name from the resemblance to fungi. [2] About 15% of the infections caused by Actinomyces involve the thorax. [3],[4] Most probable mechanism for pulmonary actinomycosis is aspiration from the oral cavity or gastrointestinal tract in a person with poor oral hygiene. Actinomyces israelii which is supposed to be the main cause in majority of the cases of pulmonary actinomycosis can be commonly found in the oral cavity particularly in case of poor oral hygiene and sometimes by direct extension from the infected cervical fascia.

The typical presenting features are chest pain, productive cough associated with skin changes, fistulas, and underlying pleural and bony abnormalities visible on a chest radiograph. However, the differential diagnosis of these conditions is very broad and can even mimic lung cancer. Spread to the pleura and chest wall may result in chest wall pain. The disease has the potential to be the cause of a chronic debilitating illness. [4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10] Definitive diagnosis on clinical grounds can be difficult. Pulmonary actinomycosis frequently develops in middle to old aged males, especially having the habit of alcohol abuse, smoking and structural lung diseases. While the clinical presentations are now milder than those in the previous reports, hemoptysis is one of the cautious symptoms of pulmonary actinomycosis. [11]

On radiological evaluation, there may be a peripheral and/or lower lobe predominance which probably reflects the role of aspiration in its pathogenesis. [3] Most lesions may be unilateral. [12] Chest wall and bony invasion are a common finding. Periosteal reaction of ribs strongly favors pulmonary actinomycosis. [13] The radiological findings of pulmonary actinomycosis can vary a lot ranging from a benign infection to metastatic tumor. [14] The main concern for many physicians is to distinguish the disease from a neoplasm. [14] On simple chest radiographs, consolidation or mass-like lesion is common. [14] On chest CT scan, pulmonary actinomycosis can present as a patchy air-space consolidation, nodular appearance with central low attenuation, mass appearance, pleural thickening, empyema or lymphadenopathy. [14] Mass-like shadow is the most common radiographic finding (37%) and endobronchial mass with luminal occlusion is the most frequent bronchoscopic finding (56%). [15] The relatively noninvasive procedure such as transthoracic needle biopsy is very useful for its diagnosis. [14]

Antibiotic treatment with penicillin and alternatively doxycycline is associated with an excellent clinical cure rate despite high rates of penicillin intolerance, individual treatment duration can be shortened below the recommended 6-12 months; however, treatment below 3 months in exclusively medically treated patients might be associated with complications during follow-up. [16]

Respiratory physicians should be aware of this important differential diagnosis which will expedite the diagnosis of this well treatable condition with an excellent prognosis, if picked up early. [17] It deserves attention because of the potential difficulty in the differential diagnosis of it from lung cancer. [17] In conclusion, it could be recommended that clinicians should consider pulmonary actinomycosis as one of the differential diagnoses for refractory pulmonary shadowing not responding to usual treatment.

 CONCLUSION



Actinomycosis should be considered in a case of an Intrathoracic mass as a differential diagnosis. Formal tissue diagnosis should be obtained whenever possible to confirm this and also to rule out any other possibilities. Empirical cancer chemo-therapy suspecting any Intrathoracic mass as BACA should not be practiced or promoted.

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