[Skip to Navigation]
November 1996

Reverse Transcriptase In Situ Polymerase Chain Reaction in Atypical Mycobacterial Adenitis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (Dr April and Mr Garelick), and the Department of Pathology (Dr Nuovo), University Hospital and Medical Center, State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr April is now with the Department of Otolaryngology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122(11):1214-1218. doi:10.1001/archotol.1996.01890230060012

Objective:  To determine whether reverse transcriptase (RT) in situ polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can facilitate the diagnosis of nontuberculous ("atypical") mycobacterial (NTM) cervical adenitis.

Design:  Retrospective review of 12 patients with neck masses clinically diagnosed as NTM cervical adenitis.

Setting:  University medical center caring for both ambulatory and hospitalized children.

Patients:  Twelve pediatric patients (all younger than 9 years) with cervicofacial masses.

Intervention:  Surgical excision of the presenting mass.

Main Outcome Measures:  Reverse transcriptase in situ PCR was used to detect mycobacterial RNA in excised tissue. All specimens were also cultured and stained for acid-fast bacilli.

Results:  Reverse transcriptase in situ PCR was positive for NTM in 7 of 12 cases.

Conclusions:  Infection with NTM may be an extremely indolent process, and the success of RT in situ PCR depends on the presence of mycobacterial nucleic acids. Even in cases in which the findings of RT in situ PCR were positive, infected cells were few in number. Because of the sparsity of infection in the positive cases, NTM may be even more rare in the negative cases, ie, those in which mycobacterial nucleic acids do not exist and cannot be detected by any means, including RT in situ PCR. Although RT in situ PCR, cultures, stains for acid-fast bacilli, and tuberculin tests using purified protein derivative are all helpful in diagnosing NTM cervical adenitis, when nucleic acids are present RT in situ PCR is the simplest, most reliable, and quickest to perform and the results are easiest to interpret.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1996;122:1214-1218

Add or change institution