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Alternative Names Return to topLumpy jaw
Definition Return to top
Actinomycosis is a long-term (chronic) bacterial infection that commonly affects the face and neck.
Causes Return to top
Actinomycosis is usually caused by an anaerobic bacteria called Actinomyces israelii, which is a common and normally not disease-causing (nonpathogenic) organism found in the nose and throat.
Because of the bacteria's normal location in the nose and throat, actinomycosis most commonly appears in the face and neck. The infection is not contagious.
Symptoms occur when the bacteria enters the facial tissues after trauma, surgery, or infection. A common cause is dental abscess or oral surgery. Once in the tissue, it forms an abscess, producing a hard, red to reddish-purple lump, often on the jaw, from which comes the condition's common name, "lumpy jaw."
Eventually, the abscess breaks through the skin surface to produce a draining sinus tract. Actinomycosis can sometimes occur in the chest (pulmonary actinomycosis) and abdomen or other areas of the body.
Symptoms Return to top
See also: Neck lumps
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
Treatment of actinomycosis usually requires antibiotics for several months to a year. Surgical drainage of the lesion may be needed.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
With treatment, you should recover fully.
Possible Complications Return to top
Meningitis can develop from this infection.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you develop any of the symptoms of this disorder. Beginning treatment promptly helps quicken the recovery.
Prevention Return to top
Maintain good oral hygiene. See your dentist regularly.Update Date: 11/1/2007 Updated by: Kenneth M. Wener, M.D., Department of Infectious Diseases, Lahey Clinic, Burlington, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.