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Actinomycosis (lumpy jaw)
Actinomycosis (lumpy jaw)


Definition:

Actinomycosis is a long-term (chronic) bacterial infection that commonly affects the face and neck.



Alternative Names:

Lumpy jaw



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Actinomycosis is usually caused by an anaerobic bacteria called Actinomyces israelii, which is a common and normally not disease-causing (nonpathogenic) organism found in the nose and throat.

Because of the bacteria's normal location in the nose and throat, actinomycosis most commonly appears in the face and neck. The infection is not contagious.

Symptoms occur when the bacteria enters the facial tissues after trauma, surgery, or infection. A common cause is dental abscess or oral surgery. Once in the tissue, it forms an abscess, producing a hard, red to reddish-purple lump, often on the jaw, from which comes the condition's common name, "lumpy jaw."

Eventually, the abscess breaks through the skin surface to produce a draining sinus tract. Actinomycosis can sometimes occur in the chest (pulmonary actinomycosis ) and abdomen or other areas of the body.



Symptoms:
  • Draining sores in the skin, especially on the chest wall from lung infection with Actinomyces
  • Fever
  • Minimal or no pain
  • Swelling or a hard, red to reddish-purple lump on the face or upper neck
  • Weight loss

See also: Neck lumps



Signs and tests:
  • Culture of the tissue or fluid shows Actinomyces species.
  • Examination of drained fluid under a microscope shows "sulfur granules" in the fluid. They are yellowish granules made of clumped organisms.
  • Examination under a microscope shows the Actinomyces species of bacteria.


Treatment:

Treatment of actinomycosis usually requires antibiotics for several months to a year. Surgical drainage of the lesion may be needed.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

With treatment, you should recover fully.



Complications:

Meningitis can develop from this infection.



Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you develop any of the symptoms of this disorder. Beginning treatment promptly helps quicken the recovery.



Prevention:

Maintain good oral hygiene . See your dentist regularly.




Review Date: 11/1/2007
Reviewed By: Kenneth M. Wener, M.D., Department of Infectious Diseases, Lahey Clinic, Burlington, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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