Numerous nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) species exist, but those primarily responsible for lung disease in humans include M. avium complex (MAC), M. abscessus, and M. kansasii. Because sputum samples may be contaminated with NTM or airway colonization may occur with these organisms in patients with other structural pulmonary abnormalities, the American Thoracic Society has developed criteria for diagnosing NTM disease. These criteria apply to symptomatic patients with radiographic abnormalities, usually bronchiectasis, cavities, and/or nodules. The criteria include at least one of the following:
American Thoracic Society. Diagnosis and treatment of disease caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1997; 156:S1-S25.
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