Claims Data Study Shows a Rise in NTM Lung Disease

January 30, 2020 by CHEST Market Growth Team

A recently released study shows an increase in the diagnosis and treatment of nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease across the United States, but the researchers said that the rise may have some positive aspects.

Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Infection
Before and after of a female patient showing symptoms of NTM lung disease, and her neck after treatment.

San Francisco-based pulmonologist and CHEST Physician Editorial Board member Sachin Gupta, MD, FCCP, said that part of the reason in the rise in the prevalence and incidence can be linked to increased awareness of the disease. Gupta also said he was worried that further studies will likely show an increase in mortality in a disease he described as, “very hard to diagnosis, very hard to treat.”

The data also suggest that there are certain clusters in the country where NTM lung disease could be growing. The student defined a case of NTM as two medical claims, using the diagnostic codes 031.0 or A31.0, made with a minimum of 30 days apart. The incidence and prevalence of NTM lung disease was found to be particularly increased in women and in older adults.

Kevin L. Winthrop, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland carried out the study by analyzing data from the US managed care claims database. The study looked at data from 2008-2015. The researchers admitted that claims data did not include microbiologic confirmation of an NTM infection. Most cases of NTM disease in the United States are caused by the caused by Mycobacterium avium bacteria, which is commonly found in water and soil.

The original findings were first published in the Annuals of the American Thoracic Society.

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