Mycobacterium abscessus infections in lung transplant recipients: 15-year experience from a single institution

Morsal Osmani, David Sotello, Salvador Alvarez, John A. Odell, Mathew Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate our institutional experience with Mycobacterium abscessus infections occurring in lung transplant recipients (LTR). Methods: We retrospectively reviewed our prospectively collected institutional adult lung transplant database from 2001 to 2015 to identify patients with M. abscessus or Mycobacterium chelonae/abscessus infection before or after transplantation. Untreated, colonized patients were excluded from the study. Electronic health records of nine out of 516 lung recipients (1.74%) with clinical infection were reviewed to determine outcomes. Results: Seven patients acquired the infection after transplantation. Indications for transplantation were: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (in 6), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (in 2), and cystic fibrosis (in 1). Five patients (55.5%) underwent bilateral lung transplantation; one patient required bilateral re-transplantation for complications from infection. M. abscessus was isolated from the respiratory tract with a median time of 7.5 months (range: 3 days to 13 months) from transplantation. All patients were treated using a multidrug regimen, with durations ranging from 3 days to 12 months. Complications from infection included death in one patient, bronchial anastomotic dehiscence in one patient, delayed bronchial occlusions in two patients, and osteomyelitis of the knee in one patient. Median survival time from transplantation was 39 months (range: 11-96 months) and from the date of first positive culture was 58 months (range: 3-91 months). Five patients (55.5%) were cured but two had re-infections >1 year later. Conclusions: Mycobacterium abscessus infection in LTR is rare and can lead to severe complications. Eradication is difficult and usually requires prolonged combination antibiotic therapy and occasionally surgical management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12835
JournalTransplant Infectious Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Mycobacterium abscessus
  • lung transplantation
  • mycobacterial infections
  • non-tuberculous mycobacterium
  • rapidly growing mycobacterium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Transplantation


Dive into the research topics of 'Mycobacterium abscessus infections in lung transplant recipients: 15-year experience from a single institution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this