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Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are infectious organisms that may infect the lungs but are not contagious and do not cause tuberculosis. NTM lung infections are potentially curable, but can cause severe symptoms that may worsen over time (like cough and difficulty breathing).

Our NTM clinic helps you fight the infection and manage your symptoms, improving your quality of life. Our team includes lung specialists, dedicated respiratory therapists, specially-trained pharmacists and other experts in NTM treatment.

Why Choose Us for NTM Care

  • Our team is dedicated to treating patients with NTM, which means you get the specialized care you need.
  • We offer treatments found in only a handful of clinics nationwide, including clinical trials.
  • You have one-on-one access to a dedicated respiratory therapist, who teaches you techniques to help with mucus clearance.

Conditions We Treat

  • Nontuberculous mycobacteria, or NTM (a group of organisms that can infect the lungs)
  • Mycobacterium avium complex, or MAC (the most common NTM species)
  • Bronchiectasis (enlarged airways caused by infection and inflammation)
  • Cavitary lung disease (gas-filled spaces in the lungs)

What to Expect

NTM is uncommon and often shows up in patients with other lung diseases. Patients often have symptoms for years before being diagnosed. No matter how advanced your infection is, we can help you get the care you need.

Referral from Your Physician

Talk to your primary care doctor if you’re suffering from the following problems — they may be signs of NTM lung infection:

  • Chronic cough with mucus
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in phlegm
  • History of bronchiectasis

Ask your doctor if you need a chest CT scan, lung tests (including sputum culture) or possibly a referral to our NTM clinic.

Your First Visit

At the first appointment, we’ll discuss:

  • Your medical history
  • What it means to find an NTM organism growing from your sputum culture (a lung mucus test for microorganisms)
  • How NTM lung disease is defined
  • How we can approach treatment, if required. 

As needed, we’ll perform tests to diagnose diseases often found alongside NTM. You’ll also meet the specialists who will help you throughout your journey, like your respiratory therapist.

Not everyone who has a sputum culture with NTM needs treatment. However, you should expect to come back for follow-up visits to monitor your infection even if treatment isn’t planned. 

Airway Clearance Appointment

Most patients who have an NTM lung infection also have a disease called bronchiectasis, or enlarged airways. Bronchiectasis makes it even harder to breathe and causes other disruptive symptoms like coughing, tiredness, wheezing, fevers and chills. Mucus build-up can irritate your airways, causing damage and worsening symptoms.

If you’re affected by bronchiectasis, you will have a separate appointment to learn about “airway clearance” from your respiratory therapist. Airway clearance includes techniques that can help you properly clear your lungs of excess mucus buildup. Proper airway clearance can help you avoid further lung damage and even speed up treatment.

Your respiratory therapist will also provide you with special devices to help with clearance. You’ll learn how to use these devices and how to care for them.

Treatment

If we determine your NTM infection needs treatment, we’ll make sure you understand the risks, benefits and expected outcomes. During treatment, you will need more testing to make sure medications are working properly.

Treatment for NTM lung infections usually consists of a regimen of multiple oral drugs. Sometimes, intravenous (injected through a vein) or inhaled medications are needed as well. If intravenous (IV) therapy is started, you may be admitted to the hospital for one or two days. After that, you’ll go home with a PICC line, which is used to administer home IV antibiotics for continued treatment.

After your treatment has finished, you’ll continue to have follow-up appointments at our NTM clinic. We’ll make sure your treatment has been successful and check for recurrence of the infection, which can occur sometimes.

Portrait of Dr. Furukawa
“NTM lung infection takes thoughtful investigation to properly diagnose and treat. Our team of specialists has the expertise needed to address this complex disease. We strive to treat the whole patient — not just the infection.”

Take the Next Step

If you think you might have an NTM lung infection, visit your primary care doctor. Ask if you need a chest CT scan, lung tests (including sputum culture) or possibly a referral to our NTM clinic.

If you’re seeking expert treatment for a previously diagnosed case of NTM, schedule an appointment with us today.