Journal of Cytology
Home About us Ahead of print Instructions Submission Subscribe Advertise Contact e-Alerts Login 
Users Online:4274
  Print this page  Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size

CASE REPORT Table of Contents   
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 133-135
Eumycetoma versus actinomycetoma: Diagnosis on cytology

1 Department of Pathology, J N Medical College, AMU Aligarh, India
2 Department of Microbiology, J N Medical College, AMU Aligarh, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication27-Nov-2010


Eumycetoma is a chronic cutaneous and subcutaneous infection caused by various genera of fungi producing specific colored granules known as grains. A 45-year-old farmer presented clinically with a left foot mass with multiple discharging sinuses existing for last 3 years. Clinical and radiological findings suggested a diagnosis of chronic osteomyelitis with suspicion of tuberculosis. Imprints plus fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) smears exhibited distinct brown-black colonies of a fungus having branching and septate hyphae embedded in matrix like material against a mixed inflammatory background. Periodic acid Schiff (PAS) stain gave positive staining and subsequent fungal culture confirmed the cytological diagnosis and aided in species identification as Madurella mycetomatis. Thus, eumycetoma can precisely be diagnosed and confidently differentiated from similar conditions such as actinomycetoma by simple and inexpensive cytological techniques such as FNAC and imprint smears, employing routine May-Grόnwald-Giemsa, Papanicolaou and simple PAS stains on cytological specimen, thus leading to rapid diagnosis for institution of correct treatment.

Keywords: Eumycetoma; fine needle aspiration cytology; Madurella mycetomatis; actinomycetoma; culture

How to cite this article:
Afroz N, Khan N, Siddiqui FA, Rizvi M. Eumycetoma versus actinomycetoma: Diagnosis on cytology. J Cytol 2010;27:133-5

How to cite this URL:
Afroz N, Khan N, Siddiqui FA, Rizvi M. Eumycetoma versus actinomycetoma: Diagnosis on cytology. J Cytol [serial online] 2010 [cited 2022 Dec 6];27:133-5. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Eumycetoma is a chronic cutaneous and subcutaneous infection caused by various genera of fungi, leading to progressive destruction of soft tissue and the nearby anatomical structures. It is mainly a disease of the tropical and subtropical zones, especially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, that is, between latitudes 15ºS and 30ºN. Mycetoma was first described in the mid-19 th century and initially named "Madura foot", after Madurai in India, where the disease was first identified.[1],[2] It is endemic in India, Pakistan, parts of Africa, Central and South America and Indonesia.[3] This disease is defined by a triad of tumefaction of the affected tissues, formation of multiple draining sinuses and the presence of grains. It is confirmed serologically, histologically or by culture studies. Most of the reports mainly discuss the histopathological characteristics of mycetoma and only a few studies have described their cytological features.[4],[5]

   Case Report Top

A 45-year-old man, farmer by occupation, presented clinically with a slow growing, slightly tender, firm mass on the plantar aspect of left foot for 3 years, measuring 5Χ4Χ3 cm. There were multiple discharging sinuses covered with blood mixed purulent exudates. Radiograph showed features of osteomyelitis and soft tissue shadow. A tentative clinical diagnosis of tuberculous osteomyelitis was proposed. Imprint smears were made from the discharge and fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) was done using a 23-gauge needle, attached to a 10-ml syringe. Aspirate consisted of sero-sanguinous, pus like material. Alcohol fixed smears were stained with Papanicolaou (Pap stain), while air-dried smears were stained with May-Grόnwald-Giemsa (MGG) stain. Simultaneously, Periodic acid Schiff (PAS), Gram's stain and acid fast bacilli (AFB) stains were performed. Additionally, fungal and bacterial cultures were carried out.

Both FNAC smears and imprint smears comprised plenty of pus cells, some lymphocytes, histiocytes and foreign body giant cells in a necrotic background. Several brown to black colonies were seen. On higher magnification, these consisted of septate, branching fungal hyphae embedded in a cement-like matrix [Figure 1] and [Figure 2]. PAS stain highlighted the branching hyphae [Figure 3]. AFB and Gram's stains were negative. The cytological diagnosis of eumycotic mycetoma was rendered with suggestion of Madura foot. The excised surgical specimen confirmed the diagnosis of eumycetoma. The fungal species was identified as Madurella mycetomatis on subsequent fungal culture.
Figure 1 :FNAC smear showing brown-black granules amidst inflammatory background (Pap, x100)

Click here to view
Figure 2 :FNAC smear showing branching septate hyphae embedded in a cement-like material (Pap, x200)

Click here to view
Figure 3 :FNAC smear showing PAS positive fungal hyphae (PAS, x200)

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

Agents that cause eumycetoma are primarily saprophytic micro-organisms that are found in the soil and on plant matter. Healthy persons become inoculated with these agents as a result of the traumatic implantation of thorns, splinters and other plant matter. Therefore, the incidence of mycetoma is more particularly occupation dependent as people like farmers, herdsmen and field workers are more likely to come in contact with the causative agents. [4] The disease is commonly seen in adult men, with a male to female ratio of 3.5:1. [6] The most common site is foot as 70% of all myetomas affect the foot,[3] hence the name Madura foot. However, extrapedal involvement also occurs and has been detected in hand, leg, head and neck, abdominal wall, buttock and perineum.[6]

Eumycetoma may present as a small localised tumor like mass, with or without sinuses, or can be associated with significant morbidity in terms of gradual enlargement, destruction and deformity of the affected site. The diagnosis of eumycetoma is made tentatively clinically when discharging grains are visible to the naked eye.[6] The grains vary in color, size and consistency depending on the causative agent and can be confirmed by culture method. Granules of eumycetoma are firm 0.2-5 mm aggregates of organised vegetative, septate hyphae, which often are embedded in a matrix cement substance of the eumycetoma, producing black granules. M. mycetomatis accounts for most cases worldwide. Pseudoallescheria boydii is the common aetiologic agent in the United States, while Madurella grisea is a common aetiologic agent in South America.[3] In general, the geographical distribution of the various mycetoma agents is related to the amount of rainfall and other climatic conditions, and thus, each geographical region has a different list of most common agents.

The smears from eumycetoma lesions have a distinct cytological appearance, characterised by (brown to black) colonies of branching, septate (distinct) hyphae embedded in a matrix which stain positively with PAS or Gomori's methenamine silver stains, both demonstrating large sized hyphae of eumycetoma.[7],[8] The differentiation of mycetoma into eumycetoma and actinomycetoma is important as the latter is more amenable to medical treatment than is eumycetoma. The distinction between eumycetoma and actinomycetoma in FNAC is as accurate as histopathology.[6] On hemotoxylin and eosin (H and E) staining, the grains of actinomycetoma appear homogenously eosinophilic, while these appear blue in the centre with pink filaments on the periphery on MGG staining. The grains are also Gram positive.[4],[8] Hag et al.[4] and Gabhane et al.[5] in their case studies have also found similar cytological findings which aided in diagnosis and also in differentiating eumycetoma from actinomycetoma. Thus, to conclude, as observed in our study, a diagnosis of eumycetoma should be suspected in case of discharging sinuses, especially those exhibiting black granules. The cytological diagnosis of eumycetoma can be as accurate as histological diagnosis, and techniques such FNAC as well as imprint smears can definitely be taken into consideration before planning any medical or surgical treatment as these are simple, inexpensive and fairly reliable techniques without any obvious disadvantages. Special fungal stains can also be well applied to cytological specimens for further confirmation, whereas culture studies are helpful in confirmation of diagnosis and species identification.

   References Top

1.Emmons CW, Binford CH, Utz JP, Kwon-Chung KJ. The Mycetoma. In: Medical Mycology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger;1977. p. 437-63.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Mycetoma JC. In: Chander J, editor. Textbook of medical mycology. 1st ed. New Delhi: Mehta Publishers;2002. p. 114-27.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Turiansky G. Eumycetoma (Fungal Mycetoma). emedicine from WebMD.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.EL Hag IA, Fahal AH, Gasim ET. Fine needle aspiration cytology of mycetoma. Acta Cytol 1996;40:461-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Gabhane SK, Gangane N, Anshu. Cytodiagnosis of eumycotic mycotoma: a case report. Acta Cytol 2008;52:354-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Farnandes H, D'souza CR, Shekhar JC, Marla NJ, Swethadri GK, Naik R. Cytodiagnosis of actinomycetoma. Diagn Cytopathol 2009;37:506-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Hinshaw M, Longeley BJ. Fungal diseases. In: Elder DE, Elenitsas R, Johnson BJ, Jr. Murphy GF, editors. Lever's histopathology. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Williams and Wilkins; 2005. p. 585-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Basilo JA, Margarita A. Mycetoma. emedicine from WebMD. 2009.  Back to cited text no. 8

Correspondence Address:
Nishat Afroz
Department of Pathology, J N Medical College, AMU Aligarh 202002
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9371.73297

Rights and Permissions


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

This article has been cited by
1 Actinomycetoma in a child: A rare occurrence
Sheetal Yadav, Archana Singal
Indian Journal of Paediatric Dermatology. 2022; 23(1): 83
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Aspergillus candidus eumycetoma with review of literature
Manharpreet Kaur, Nidhi Singla, Mala Bhalla, Reetu Kundu, Neelam Gulati, Jagdish Chander
Journal of Medical Mycology. 2021; 31(3): 101135
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Cytopathology of Fungal Infections
Reetu Kundu, Radhika Srinivasan
Current Fungal Infection Reports. 2021; 15(3): 81
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Cyto-morphological and clinical approach to infections presenting with discharging sinuses mimicking malignancy
Soundarya Ravi, Norton Stephen, Jinkala Sreerekha, Sivaranjini Ramassamy, Biswanath Behera, Debasis Gochhait
Diagnostic Cytopathology. 2020; 48(12): 1265
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Challenges in culture-negative cases of Madurella mycetomatis : A case report re-accentuating PCR as an essential diagnostic tool
S. K,S. Das,D. Pandhi,G. Rai,M.A. Ansari,C. Gupta,S. Haque,S.A. Dar
Journal de Mycologie Médicale. 2017; 27(4): 577
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 Black Grain Eumycetoma Revisited: Enhanced Fungal Isolation by Use of a Novel Technique
Col Nandita Hazra
Journal of Bacteriology & Mycology: Open Access. 2017; 4(5)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 Subcutaneous mycoses in coastal Karnataka in south India
Ramesh M. Bhat,Rochelle C. Monteiro,Nandakishore Bala,Sukumar Dandakeri,Jacintha Martis,Ganesh H. Kamath,Srinath M. Kambil,Ramay Asha Vadakayil
International Journal of Dermatology. 2016; 55(1): 70
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
8 Efficient staining of actinomycetoma and eumycetoma grains using henna extract
SE Batran
Biotechnic & Histochemistry. 2015; 90(8): 568
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
9 A Five-Year Survey of Dematiaceous Fungi in a Tropical Hospital Reveals Potential Opportunistic Species
Su Mei Yew,Chai Ling Chan,Kok Wei Lee,Shiang Ling Na,Ruixin Tan,Chee-Choong Hoh,Wai-Yan Yee,Yun Fong Ngeow,Kee Peng Ng,Ana Paula Arez
PLoS ONE. 2014; 9(8): e104352
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
10 Mycetoma Caused by Madurella mycetomatis: A completely neglected medico-social dilemma
Van Belkum, A. and Fahal, A. and Van De Sande, W.W.J.
Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 2013; 764: 179-189
11 Madurella mycetomatis infection following allogenic stem cell transplantation for aplastic anemia
Sharma, S.K. and Mukherjee, A. and Singh, A.K. and Seth, T. and Kumar, S. and Mishra, P. and Xess, I. and Gupta, S. and Mahapatra, M. and Pati, H.
Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases. 2012; 4(1)
12 Subcutaneous fungal infections
Hoz, R.M.L. and Baddley, J.W.
Current Infectious Disease Reports. 2012; 14(5): 530-539
13 Tropical Fungal Infections
Hsu, L.Y. and Wijaya, L. and Shu-Ting Ng, E. and Gotuzzo, E.
Infectious Disease Clinics of North America. 2012; 26(2): 497-512
14 Subcutaneous Fungal Infections
Ricardo M. La Hoz,John W. Baddley
Current Infectious Disease Reports. 2012; 14(5): 530
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded338    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 14    

Recommend this journal