Diagnosing actinomycosis 

In its initial stages, actinomycosis can be a challenging condition to diagnose correctly because it shares symptoms with other, more common conditions.

These include:

As actinomycosis can be difficult to diagnose, it's often only discovered during tests or surgery to check for other conditions.

For example, many cases of actinomycosis are detected when biopsies are carried out to check for cancer. A biopsy is where a small tissue sample is removed so it can be examined under a microscope.

Actinomycosis can usually be more confidently diagnosed in its later stages, after the sinus tracts have appeared in the surface of the skin.

This is because the sulphur granules produced by the sinus tracts during an actinomycosis infection have a distinctive shape that can be identified under a microscope.

Page last reviewed: 28/08/2014

Next review due: 28/08/2017