Actinomycetoma, also known as mycetoma, is a chronic infectious disease characterized by the formation of localized swellings and abscesses in the subcutaneous tissue. It is caused by the invasion of certain bacteria or fungi into the skin and underlying tissues.

Actinomycetoma can be caused by two main groups of microorganisms. One is Actinomycetes bacteria, such as Actinomadura, Nocardia, or Streptomyces. In some cases, certain fungi like Madurella, Pseudallescheria, or Exophiala can cause actinomycetoma. The bacteria or fungi that cause actinomycetoma are usually found in soil, decaying vegetation, or thorns. The infection typically occurs when these microorganisms enter the body through a cut, scrape, or puncture wound, leading to the development of a localized infection.

Actinomycetoma is a chronic condition, and treatment may need to be continued for an extended period, often lasting months or even years. Close monitoring for recurrence or complications is necessary, and follow-up care is crucial to ensure the infection is effectively controlled.


Actinomycetoma, also known as mycetoma, can be classified into different types based on the causative microorganism. Here are the main types of actinomycetoma:

1. Actinomycetoma caused by bacteria:
– Actinomadura: Actinomadura madurae is a common cause of actinomycetoma, especially in tropical regions.
– Nocardia: Nocardia brasiliensis is the most frequent species associated with actinomycetoma.
– Streptomyces: Streptomyces somaliensis is a rare cause of actinomycetoma, mostly found in East Africa.

2. Actinomycetoma caused by fungi:

– Madurella: Madurella mycetomatis is the most prevalent fungal species causing actinomycetoma worldwide.
– Pseudallescheria: Pseudallescheria boydii (also known as Scedosporium apiospermum) is another common fungal cause.
– Exophiala: Exophiala jeanselmei is a rare fungal species associated with actinomycetoma.


Actinomycetoma, also known as mycetoma, presents with several characteristic symptoms. Here are the main symptoms associated with actinomycetoma:

1. Localized swelling or nodules: Actinomycetoma typically begins with the development of painless, slowly enlarging swellings or nodules in the affected area. These nodules can vary in size and may be firm or fluctuant to the touch.

2. Abscesses and fistulas: Over time, the nodules can progress to form abscesses. These abscesses may contain pus or granules and can occasionally rupture, leading to the formation of open sores or fistulas that drain fluid or discharge.

3. Pain or discomfort: As the infection progresses and involves deeper tissues, it can cause pain or discomfort in the affected area. The pain may be mild or severe, depending on the extent of the infection and the involvement of adjacent structures.

4. Deformities: If left untreated, actinomycetoma can lead to deformities in the affected area. This can occur due to the destruction of tissues, including muscles, tendons, and bones, resulting in functional impairments and cosmetic changes.

5. Systemic symptoms (rare): In some cases, actinomycetoma can cause systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, or weight loss. However, these symptoms are less common and usually associated with advanced or severe cases.


The diagnosis of actinomycetoma typically involves a combination of clinical evaluation, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. Here are the main methods used in diagnosing actinomycetoma:

1. Medical history and physical examination: Your healthcare professional will begin by taking a detailed medical history, including any symptoms you may be experiencing and potential exposure to risk factors. They will then conduct a thorough physical examination, paying close attention to the affected area and any characteristic signs, such as nodules, abscesses, or fistulas.

2. Laboratory tests: Laboratory tests play a crucial role in confirming the diagnosis of actinomycetoma. These tests may include:

– Microscopic examination: A sample of fluid, pus, or tissue from the affected area is collected and examined under a microscope. This helps identify the presence of characteristic granules or structures, which can indicate the presence of actinomycetoma.

– Culture: A sample is cultured in the laboratory to grow and isolate the causative microorganism. This helps identify the specific bacterial or fungal species responsible for the infection, guiding appropriate treatment selection.

– Molecular techniques: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or other molecular methods may be used to detect and identify the genetic material of the causative microorganism. These techniques provide rapid and accurate results, especially in cases where the organism is difficult to culture.

3. Imaging studies: Imaging studies, such as X-rays, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be used to assess the extent of the infection, identify any bone involvement or deformities, and guide surgical planning if necessary.

4. Biopsy: In some cases, a small sample of tissue may be obtained through a biopsy for further examination. This can provide detailed information about the nature of the infection and help rule out other conditions.


The treatment of actinomycetoma typically involves a combination of medical therapies and, in some cases, surgical interventions. Here are the main treatment approaches used for actinomycetoma:

1. Antibiotic therapy: Actinomycetoma caused by bacteria is usually treated with long-term antibiotic therapy. The specific choice of antibiotics depends on the identified bacteria through laboratory testing. Commonly used antibiotics include sulfonamides, tetracyclines, and certain beta-lactam antibiotics. Treatment duration can range from several months to a year or longer, and it is important to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed.

2. Antifungal therapy: Actinomycetoma caused by fungi requires antifungal medications. The choice of antifungal agents depends on the identified fungus through laboratory testing. Antifungal therapy is often long-term and may require several months or even years of treatment. Similar to antibiotic therapy, it is important to adhere to the prescribed treatment regimen.

3. Surgical interventions: In some cases, surgical interventions may be necessary to remove abscesses, drain fluid or pus, or excise infected tissues. Surgery can help in reducing the burden of infection and preventing further damage. It is often combined with medical therapy to achieve optimal outcomes.

4. Supportive care: During the course of treatment, supportive care measures may be employed to manage symptoms and promote healing. This may include wound care, pain management, and physical therapy to improve functional outcomes.

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