Frequency of Abdominal CT Findings in AIDS Patients With M. avium Complex Bacteraemia

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Use of blood culture studies for early diagnosis of Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection has become important due to the recent development of effective antibiotic therapy for this condition. This study assessed the abdominal computed tomography (CT) findings in patients with AIDS who presented with bacteraemic MAC infection.


A retrospective analysis of abdominal CT scans was performed in 24 patients who presented with MAC-positive blood culture. CT images were reviewed specifically to evaluate for lymph node enlargement and attenuation, hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, bowel wall abnormality and for any other pathological changes. Comparison was made to prior reports of the CT findings in this disease process.


Enlarged intra-abdominal mesenteric and/or retroperitoneal lymph nodes were found in 10 patients (42%). These nodes were characterized by homogeneous, soft-tissue attenuation in eight of the 10 patients. Hepatomegaly, splenomegaly and small bowel wall thickening were noted in 12 (50%), 11 (46%) and four (14%) patients, respectively. CT findings were evaluated as normal in six (25%) patients.


Enlarged mesenteric and/or retroperitoneal lymph nodes in AIDS patients with bacteraemic MAC were observed much less frequently on CT than previously reported in AIDS patient populations. Normal abdominal CT findings do not exclude this diagnosis and may reflect a trend towards earlier detection of MAC disease.

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