Published: 2021-03-24

Actinomyces causing chronic tonsillitis: a retrospective study

Ravishankara S., Madhumitha Srinivas, Sreedevi N. T.


Background: Actinomyces is often overlooked and hence reported as rare infection of palatine tonsils. It can often lead to chronic tonsillitis and can masquerade as oropharyngeal malignancy. Objectives were to estimate the proportion of actinomyces causing chronic tonsillitis using histopathological evidence and to describe the histopathology of tonsillectomy specimens.

Methods: Total 33 patients had undergone tonsillectomy in the study period of June 2018 to September 2020. Tonsil biopsy specimens stained with haematoxylin-Eosin stain and gram Stain were evaluated by light microscopy examination for the presence of actinomyces.   

Results: Total 4 Patients (8 tonsillectomy specimens) had evidence of actinomycosis on histopathological examination constituting 12.12 % of the total specimens examined, the mean age was 17 years (ranging from 5 to 42 years). One of the specimens had unilateral tonsillar cyst which revealed colonies of actinomyces.

Conclusions: Actinomycosis of tonsil is a common condition which is usually missed as routine histopathological examination of excised tonsils is not done. Hence, we recommend routine histopathological examination of all tonsillectomy specimens irrespective of age.


Actinomyces, Tonsillar actinomycosis, Chronic tonsillitis

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