Objective: To examine the clinical characteristics and management of periocular infections caused by atypical mycobacteria. Design: Retrospective, noncomparative case series. Participants: Six patients were identified with periocular atypical mycobacterial infections: four with Mycobacterium chelonae and two with Mycobacterium fortuitum. Intervention: The treatment of these infections included removal of the foreign bodies with debridement of the lesions. Specimens were sent for histopathologic examination, routine cultures, and fresh tissue for culture after homogenization. Main Outcome Measures: A retrospective review of culture-proven atypical mycobacterial infections involving the periocular tissues was performed. Charts were reviewed for age, gender, infectious organism, medical history, surgical history, presenting symptoms, clinical features, and treatment. Results: Four associations with infection were identified in these patients: immunosuppression, nasolacrimal duct obstruction, the presence of a foreign body, and a history of recent surgery. All six of the patients had at least one of these associations and five of the patients had at least two. Clinical characteristics that may distinguish atypical mycobacterial infections from acute bacterial infections include subacute presentation, firm nodular lesions, mild erythema, mild tenderness, and minimal purulent discharge. All patients had resolution of their infections after debridement and several weeks of systemic antibiotic therapy guided by susceptibility testing. Conclusions: Periocular atypical mycobacterial infections are uncommon. The clinical history and examination can raise the suspicion of this infection by revealing the clinical characteristics of these infections. Treatment includes removal of foreign bodies, debridement, and long-term systemic antibiotic therapy.
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