Mycoplasma pneumonia differential diagnosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Mycoplasma pneumonia must be differentiated from other causes of pneumonia, chest pain, and cough, such as other infectious causes, aspiration pneumonia, pneumonitis, lung abscess, empyema, COPD exacerbation, asthma, interstitial lung disease, cardiac diseases, and malignancies.

Differential Diagnosis

Differential diagnosis for Mycoplasma pneumonia includes the following:

Mycoplasma pneumonia must be differentiated from other diseases that cause atypical pneumonia such as Q fever and legionella

Disease Prominent clinical features Lab findings Chest X-ray
Q fever
  • Antibody detection using indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) is the preferred method for diagnosis.
  • PCR can be used if IIF is negative, or very early once disease is suspected.
  • C. burnetii does not grow on ordinary blood cultures, but can be cultivated on special media such as embryonated eggs or cell culture.
  • A two-to-three fold increase in AST and ALT is seen in most patients.
Q fever pneumonia - - Case courtesy of Royal Melbourne Hospital Respiratory,, rID 21993
Mycoplasma pneumonia
Mycoplasma pneumonia - Case courtesy of Dr Alborz Jahangiri,, rID 45781
Legionella pneumonia - Case courtesy of Dr Henry Knipe,, rID 31816
Chlamydia pneumonia
Chlamydia-pneumonia - Case courtesy of Dr Andrew Dixon,, rID 14567


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Irfan M, Farooqi J, Hasan R (2013). "Community-acquired pneumonia". Curr Opin Pulm Med. 19 (3): 198–208. doi:10.1097/MCP.0b013e32835f1d12. PMID 23422417.