Surgical management of parotid non-tuberculous mycobacteria lymphadenitis in children: A pediatric tertiary-care hospital's experience

Elliot Y. Koo*, Matthew T. Maksimoski, Monica M. Herron, Bharat Bhushan, Meredith A. Reynolds, Ben Z. Katz, Douglas R. Johnston, Jeffrey C. Rastatter, John Maddalozzo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) represents an important etiology of cervicofacial lymphadenitis (CFL) and skin/soft tissue infections in children. It can also affect the salivary glands, including the parotid gland, which is unique due to the presence of intra-salivary lymph nodes. There are no established guidelines for treatment of NTM CFL. NTM lymphadenitis was historically surgically treated; recently the literature supports initial medical treatment. Treatment decisions have been dependent on the extent of disease, preference of providers, and risk of surgical complications. The goal is to report our experience in surgical outcomes of NTM CFL with involvement of the parotid gland after pre-operative medical management. Methods: A retrospective case series of patients with NTM affecting the parotid gland at a tertiary care pediatric hospital between 2004 and 2020. Results: Seventy-two patients were referred for surgical evaluation of possible parotid NTM. Thirty-three patients underwent surgical excision. Fifteen patients were identified with presumed NTM infection involving the parotid gland. There were twelve females and three males with a mean age of 2.0 years (SD 1.55; range 1–6 days) at the time of surgery. All underwent surgical excision with parotidectomy. The most common pre-operative antimycobacterial therapy used was a combination of clarithromycin and rifampin. All 15 patients had pathological findings consistent with NTM infection (granulomatous lymphadenitis). Forty percent (n = 6) of patients had positive stains with acid-fast bacilli (AFB), with Mycobacterium avium as the most common species (n = 5). The majority of patients, 86.67% (n = 13), had complete resolution of infection after surgery. Clarithromycin and rifampin were the most common post-operative antimycobacterial treatment (mean 81.5 days, SD 110.14, range 2–411 days). The most common complication experienced was acute (<3 months) lower facial nerve paresis (40%, n = 6), but no patient had permanent facial paralysis. Conclusion and Relevance: Parotidectomy is a safe and efficacious treatment in patients with NTM CFL affecting the parotid gland after incomplete resolution with antimycobacterial therapy. Further investigation to optimize duration of antimycobacterial treatment is necessary. We highlight the experience of a high-volume tertiary care pediatric hospital with surgical management of this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110960
JournalInternational journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Lymphadenitis
  • Non-tuberculous mycobacteria
  • Parotidectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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