Disseminated Actinomycosis: Multisystem Mimicry in Primary Care

Michael W. Felz, MD, Michael R. Smith, MD


South Med J. 2003;96(3) 

In This Article


Actinomycosis is an invasive, destructive infectious syndrome caused by Gram-positive, branching, filamentous bacteria in the order Actinomycetales. The principal agent of human infections is Actinomyces israelii. Actinomycosis typically involves four anatomic sites, resulting in cervicofacial, thoracic, abdominal, or pelvic infection. Occasionally, however, dissemination of organisms, coupled with desmoplastic tissue reactions, produces protean clinical manifestations easily mistaken for other indolent infections or metastatic malignancies.[1] We report the case of a patient with disseminated actinomycosis with predominant orthopedic, dermatologic, and radiologic features mimicking several other illnesses. We also compare our findings with published cases in the literature.