Mycobacterium Chelonae Treatment & Management

  • Author: Alfred Scott Lea, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
Updated: Oct 06, 2015

Medical Care

Localized cutaneous infection usually resolves with appropriate antibiotics with combined indicated excision or debridement. An optimal drug regimen for Mycobacterium chelonae infection has not been established.


Surgical Care

Aggressive debridement of infected soft tissue has always been advocated as a modality of therapy. Uncomplicated infections may not require surgical intervention, and it is not unusual for practitioners to try antimicrobial chemotherapy alone before undertaking a surgical procedure. Excision and debridement is currently recommended when infection is extensive, recurrent, or drug resistant. Abscess formation with or without sinus tract formation and bone involvement usually requires formal debridement.[25, 29] In addition, infections in patients intolerant of drug therapy may need surgical excision.

Any infected foreign body or implanted device usually must be removed in combination with antibiotic therapy to optimize the therapeutic outcome.[18, 20, 21, 27, 29]

Ocular infections usually require surgical intervention.[23]

Pulmonary infection only requires surgical intervention when it is extensive, cavitary, or nonresponsive to drug therapy. Surgery usually involves lobectomy or segmentectomy and has been reported to have acceptable morbidity and mortality in most cases with reasonable preserved lung function.[37]



Consultation with the following specialists may be indicated:

  • An infectious diseases specialist for diagnostic and therapeutic guidance
  • A pulmonologist for lung lesions, possible bronchoscopy, and therapeutic guidance
  • A dermatologist for possible biopsy of cutaneous lesions
  • A surgeon for debridement, biopsy or surgical guidance

Consider obtaining expert advice from the following institutions:



No specific dietary restrictions are indicated.



Patients with M chelonae infections are not contagious and should not be isolated.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Alfred Scott Lea, MD Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine

Alfred Scott Lea, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Texas Medical Association, Harris County Medical Society, American College of Certified Wound Specialists

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Jeana L Benwill, MD Assistant Professor, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Jeana L Benwill, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Aaron Glatt, MD Chief Administrative Officer, Executive Vice President, Mercy Medical Center, Catholic Health Services of Long Island

Aaron Glatt, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American Association for Physician Leadership, American College of Physicians, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, American Thoracic Society, American Venereal Disease Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America, International AIDS Society, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD David Ross Boyd Professor and Chairman, Department of Medicine, Stewart G Wolf Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center; Master of the American College of Physicians; Fellow, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Medical Association, Oklahoma State Medical Association, Southern Society for Clinical Investigation, Association of Professors of Medicine, American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Klaus-Dieter Lessnau, MD, FCCP Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine; Medical Director, Pulmonary Physiology Laboratory; Director of Research in Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Medicine, Section of Pulmonary Medicine, Lenox Hill Hospital

Klaus-Dieter Lessnau, MD, FCCP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, American Thoracic Society, Society of Critical Care Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Cutaneous lesions from Mycobacterium abscessus. Courtesy of K. Galil, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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