, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 591–597 | Cite as

Incidental intraoperative diagnosis of Mycobacterium abscessus meningeal infection: a case report and review of the literature

  • Francesca Giovannenze
  • Vito StifanoEmail author
  • Giancarlo Scoppettuolo
  • Fernando Damiano
  • Federico Pallavicini
  • Giovanni Delogu
  • Ivana Palucci
  • Alessandro Rapisarda
  • Cosimo Sturdà
  • Angelo Pompucci



Mycobacterium abscessus, and rapidly growing mycobacteria in general, are rare but increasing causes of central nervous system (CNS) infections. The aim of this study is to highlight the importance of considering these microorganism in the differential diagnosis of CNS infections, obtaining a prompt diagnosis, and improving clinical outcomes.


Case report and literature review.


We report a case of meningeal infection in a patient who underwent decompressive craniectomy after a craniofacial trauma. The diagnosis was made analyzing a sample obtained during a second operation of cranioplasty. A regimen of amikacin, clarithromycin, and imipenem/cilastatin was started. In the following days, the patient experienced a variety of side effects. So, first clarithromycin was replaced with linezolid, then amikacin was stopped and cefoxitin added to the therapy and at the end all the antibiotics were withdrawn. The patient was discharged in good conditions and a clinical interdisciplinary follow-up was started. After 12 months, the patient is still doing well. After a literature analysis, 15 cases of M. abscessus CNS infections were identified. Various modes of acquisition, underlying disease and therapeutic schemes were evident.


Considering the results of the literature analysis and the increasing incidence of M. abscessus, all specialists involved in the management of CNS infection should be aware of the importance of atypical microorganisms in differential diagnosis.


Mycobacterium abscessus complex Meningeal infection CNS infection 



We thank Dr. Angela Bohnen for her contribution to the English language editing.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

An approval by an ethics committee was not applicable.

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Giovannenze
    • 1
  • Vito Stifano
    • 2
    Email author
  • Giancarlo Scoppettuolo
    • 1
  • Fernando Damiano
    • 1
  • Federico Pallavicini
    • 1
  • Giovanni Delogu
    • 3
  • Ivana Palucci
    • 3
  • Alessandro Rapisarda
    • 2
  • Cosimo Sturdà
    • 2
  • Angelo Pompucci
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Infectious DiseasesCatholic University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of NeurosurgeryCatholic University of RomeRomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of MicrobiologyCatholic University of RomeRomeItaly

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