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Abdominal Actinomycosis

Last updated March 7, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Digestive Tract Actinomycosis is a rare, chronic bacterial infection of the abdominal wall and/or organs of the digestive tract, caused predominantly by the bacterium Actinomyces israelii, and to a lesser extent by other Actinomyces species. It can occur as a consequence of infections, surgery, or ingestion of a foreign object.


The topic Abdominal Actinomycosis you are seeking is a synonym, or alternative name, or is closely related to the medical condition Digestive Tract Actinomycosis.

Quick Summary:

  • Digestive Tract Actinomycosis is a rare, chronic bacterial infection of the abdominal wall and/or organs of the digestive tract, caused predominantly by the bacterium Actinomyces israelii, and to a lesser extent by other Actinomyces species
  • They exist naturally in the mucous lining of the nose, throat, mouth, digestive tract, and female reproductive tract, and are not normally harmful. These anaerobic bacteria have the ability to grow in the absence of oxygen, or in reduced concentrations of oxygen
  • However, any injury, trauma, or surgical procedure can cause the bacterial cells to enter deeper tissues, where they are not normally found. Since these bacteria can grow without oxygen, they can thrive in such environments, resulting in infection
  • Digestive Tract Actinomycosis can occur as a consequence of infections, surgery, or ingestion of a foreign object, causing chronic pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. This type is more common in adult men than women and children, and constitutes approximately 20% of all reported cases (of actinomycosis)
  • The bacteria are slow-growing and the infection leads to the formation of hard, pus-filled abscess in the affected tissue. The abscess may drain and this can be accompanied by pain and fever
  • The diagnosis of Digestive Tract Actinomycosis may involve imaging studies to ascertain areas of infection, as well as surgical removal of tissue sample for analysis and culture. The drainage from the abscess may be observed under the microscope to check for “sulfur granules” 
  • Prolonged treatment with antibiotics is necessary to remove the infection. In some cases, the abscess may need to be surgically drained or removed
  • With prompt diagnosis and sustained treatment, Actinomycosis of Digestive Tract is curable. However, if the infection becomes generalized via spread of bacteria through the bloodstream, it can spread to other organs and tissues. In such cases, the recovery can be prolonged 

Please find comprehensive information on Digestive Tract Actinomycosis regarding definition, distribution, risk factors, causes, signs & symptoms, diagnosis, complications, treatment, prevention, prognosis, and additional useful information HERE.

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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 7, 2017
Last updated: March 7, 2018