Study objectives: To describe the clinical and
radiographic findings associated with growth of Mycobacterium
gordonae in cultured sputum and to determine the proportion of
cases that fulfill criteria for nontuberculous mycobacterial pulmonary
disease as established by the American Thoracic Society.
Design: A retrospective review of charts and radiographs of
all patients from whom M gordonae was isolated from
sputum cultures between November 1996 and June 1998.
Setting: University-affiliated Veterans Affairs
Patients: Nineteen patients were identified
with sputum culture positive for M gordonae. All
patients had a chest radiograph within 1 month of sputum culture.
Results: Sixteen patients (84%) had suppressed local
and/or general immunity. Sixteen patients (84%) had respiratory
symptoms, weight loss, fever, or night sweats as an indication for
chest radiography. Seventeen patients (89%) had abnormal chest
radiographs; however, no typical radiographic pattern was observed. No
patient met diagnostic criteria for nontuberculous mycobacterial
pulmonary disease as delineated by the American Thoracic Society. All
patients with abnormal chest radiographs and/or respiratory symptoms
ultimately had alternative explanations for their pulmonary
Conclusions: There is a broad spectrum of
chest radiographic findings among persons with sputum culture positive
for M gordonae, arguing against the presence of a
characteristic chest radiograph in this patient population. M
gordonae is usually a nonpathogenic colonizing organism, even
among persons with local or general immune suppression and abnormal
chest radiograph findings.