Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM): Diagnosis

A nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) diagnosis can be more difficult than a tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis. It is important for your healthcare provider to determine if the infection is TB or NTM. If it is NTM, the specific type of NTM is important. In addition, it is critical for the healthcare provider to determine whether the NTM infection requires treatment. Some people harbor the germs and remain well. They may need to be observed without treatment. Others have or may be developing serious and progressive illness. A diagnosis is often based on the following:

  • A complete medical history and physical examination by a healthcare provider.
  • A Chest CT scan (a specialized X-ray which produces detailed slide-like pictures) of the lungs.
  • A sputum culture - Several sputum cultures are often necessary and must be done at specialized labs. One positive test does not always mean disease is present.
  • Other procedures such as bronchoscopy may be required in certain cases.
More Diagnosis Information
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NTM Infections Treatment

The doctors at National Jewish Health are internationally recognized experts in the diagnosis and care of patients with NTM infections.

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NTM Center of Excellence

The NTM Center of Excellence is dedicated to enhancing the clinical care for all patients with NTM infections, & expanding the body of knowledge on NTM through translational research.

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