A complicated case of an immunocompetent patient with disseminated nocardiosis

Chad J. Cooper, Sarmad Said, Maryna Popp, Haider Alkhateeb, Carlos Rodriguez, Mateo Porres Aguilar, Ogechika Alozie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Nocardia species are aerobic, gram positive filamentous branching bacteria that have the potential to cause localized or disseminated infection. Nocardiosis is a rare disease that usually affects immunocompromised patients and presents as either pulmonary, cutaneous or disseminated nocardiosis. Forty-two yearold hispanic male presented to our care with bilateral lower extremity weakness, frontal headache, subjective fever, nausea, and vomiting. Brain computed tomography (CT) revealed multiple hyperdense lesions with vasogenic edema in the frontal, parietal and left temporal lobes. Chest CT demonstrated bilateral cavitary nodules in the lung and right hilar lymphadenopathy. Brain magnetic resonance imaging revealed multiple bilateral supratentorial and infratentorial rim enhancing lesions involving the subcortical graywhite matter interface with vasogenic edema. Patient was started on empiric therapy for unknown infectious etiology with no response. He eventually expired and autopsy findings revealed a right hilar lung abscess and multiple brain abscesses. Microscopic and culture findings from tissue sample during autopsy revealed nocardia wallacei species with multidrug resistance. The cause of death was stated as systemic nocadiosis (nocardia pneumonitis and encephalitis). The presence of simultaneous lung and brain abscesses is a reliable indication of an underlying Nocardia infection. An increased awareness of the various presentations of nocardiosis and a high index of clinical suspicion can help in a rapid diagnosis and improve survival in an otherwise fatal disease. This case highlights the importance of obtaining a tissue biopsy for definitive diagnosis on the initial presentation when an infectious process is considered in the differential diagnosis and early treatment can be initiated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalInfectious Disease Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain abscess
  • Lung abscess
  • Nocardia
  • Septic emboli

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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