Prosthesis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Protothekosis is an infectious disease that affects not only humans but also cattle and dogs. The trigger of protothecosis is found in Prototheca green algae. The most common are Prototheca zopfii and Prototheca wickerhamii. In most human diseases, protothecosis is caused by green algae of the species Prototheca wickerhamii.

What is prosthetics?

The first description of protothecosis was in 1964. Basically, protothecosis is a disease that occurs relatively rarely in humans. In addition, prosthetics is not usually transmissible between humans. Instead, most people become infected through prototheca of external origin.

Sometimes prototheques are also found in people who do not suffer from the disease. Corresponding prototheques can be detected in numerous people, which are primarily located in the airways and the gastrointestinal tract. In over 50 percent of the clinically diagnosed diseases, the patient has a weakness in the body’s defense system . This circumstance seems to promote the occurrence of protothecosis.

The weakened immune system often results from blood cancer , the use of corticosteroids and organ transplantation in the context of protothecosis. Regular alcohol abuse and diabetes mellitus also promote infection with prosthetics. In addition, numerous patients with prosthetics take immunosuppressants at the same time and are already over the third decade of life. It is also possible for prosthetics to occur in infants and in childhood patients.

In addition, there are certain geographic concentrations of protothecosis. Protothecosis occurs particularly often in rural areas of Taiwan and the southwest of the United States of America. People who work in rice paddies or fields or who regularly come into contact with seafood are at particular risk of developing protothecosis.


The exact pathogenesis of protothecosis has not yet been adequately researched. The virulence of prototheca is generally comparatively low, so that infectious processes are usually limited to a specific area. Patients often become infected through skin or respiratory contact with the prototheca.

Injuries to the skin in particular are an easy gateway for protothesis. Serious forms of protothesis usually only occur when the patient suffers from a weakened body’s defense system.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Physicians differentiate between three different symptom forms of prosthetics. On the one hand, the disease manifests itself in olecrani bursitis. These are inflammations of the bursa in the elbow area and other infections. On the other hand, cutaneous prosthetics with changes and damage to the skin is possible.

Finally, protothecosis also occurs in the form of infections of the urinary tract and lungs , colpitis and inflammation of the meninges . The most common is cutaneous protothecosis, which can be seen, for example, in lesions on the skin or mucous membranes. The symptoms develop gradually and over a longer period of time. Spontaneous healing of this form of prosthetics is comparatively rare.

Ulcers, pus and crust formation on the skin are typical of cutaneous prosthetics. Sometimes a synovitis develops as a result of this form of prosthetics . The incubation period of prosthetics is usually a few weeks. The damage to the skin is often limited to one area. Spread to other areas of the body usually only occurs in patients with a weakened immune system. The face and limbs are particularly affected.

Diagnosis & disease progression

Prosthesis is usually diagnosed relatively late because doctors rarely consider the disease in the differential diagnosis. Sometimes the suspicion of the presence of a protothecosis is only substantiated when attempts at treatment against other germs fail over a longer period of time. In the anamnesis, the treating doctor goes into the symptoms of the prosthetics and asks about possible contact with prosthetics.

Histological examinations of tissue samples play an important role in the diagnosis of prosthetics. The doctor takes the samples, for example, from areas of skin affected by prosthetics. The use of wound secretions is also an option. At the same time, the doctor usually creates a microbiological culture to identify the causative agent of protothesis. Blood tests , on the other hand, contribute only insignificantly to a diagnosis of protothecosis.


As a rule, complications from prosthetic surgery only arise if the disease is not treated. Those affected suffer from the symptoms of the infection, although this infection can also spread to other areas of the body. The kidneys, urinary tract or lungs can also be affected by the disease.

Furthermore, the protothecosis also leads to inflammation of the hind skin. If this disease is not treated, the patient usually dies. Self-healing does not occur in most cases. The disease is usually diagnosed relatively late because the disease has a long incubation period. Furthermore, the infection leads to a generally weakened immune system, so that the patients also contract other diseases more easily.

The disease is treated with medication or surgery. In most cases, the course of the disease is positive. As a rule, complications only arise if the protothecosis is not treated. This can also lead to a reduced life expectancy of the patient.

When should you go to the doctor?

Prosthesis is a serious condition and should be treated promptly by a doctor. If symptoms such as the typical skin lesions, systemic infections all over the body or inflammatory reactions such as pneumonia or meningitis occur, it is best to consult your family doctor . People who are already suffering from prosthetics or who suffer from previous diseases of the immune system belong to the risk groups. You should consult your doctor if signs of pneumonia or meningitis appear or if your general well-being decreases rapidly.

Since the disease is often diagnosed too late, treatment may have to start immediately after diagnosis. The prosthesis is treated by the general practitioner or an internist . Drug treatment using antibiotics and antimycotics must be monitored by a doctor. The doctor must be informed about side effects and interactions so that the medication can be adjusted. In addition, a nutritionist should be involved in the treatment. The professional can suggest a supportive diet and thereby contribute to a speedy recovery.

Treatment & Therapy

A standardized treatment of prosthetics is not yet available. There are currently hardly any statistical results on the success of possible therapeutic approaches. Doctors usually use a combination of drug and surgical treatment of prosthetics. In principle, spontaneous healing of the prosthesis occurs in the rarest of cases.

With regard to cutaneous prosthetics, surgical removal of the diseased skin areas has proven to be successful. At the same time, the patients receive local amphotericin B and azoles. Continuous monitoring of the success of the therapy is necessary until the prosthesis has healed. Precise statements about the prognosis of prosthetics are not possible.


There are no known preventive measures for prosthetics. The background to the development of protothecosis has not been adequately researched. The known risk groups, such as rice farmers or farmers in certain regions of the world, are particularly careful to avoid contact with prototheques.


Since a prosthesis can rarely be completely treated, intensive follow-up treatment must always follow the treatment of a prosthesis. This should consist of regular blood tests on prototheques by the family doctor and/or the attending specialist. In addition, the inflammation values ​​​​in the blood should be determined in order to detect renewed inflammation at an early stage.

If peritonitis or meningitis has occurred as a result of prosthetic surgery, additional follow-up examinations are necessary. The peritoneum should be regularly examined for new foci of inflammation using imaging methods (MRI, CT, X-ray). For early detection of renewed meningitis, regular lumbar punctures with liquor removal and, if necessary, imaging procedures (MRT, CT) should be used.

In addition, intensive skin hygiene should be observed, especially if the skin was affected by the prosthetics. For this purpose, the entire skin should be showered daily with disinfecting soap. In addition, hands should be disinfected regularly. Hand disinfection is particularly necessary after visiting public toilets in order to avoid infection with other pathogens of chronic inflammatory skin diseases and the spread of the prototheque.

Occurring skin injuries must be disinfected regularly and intensively because of the risk of renewed prosthetics. If inflammation of the skin occurs again, it must be surgically removed immediately and examined for prototheca. In addition, contact with pets must be avoided.

You can do that yourself

In the case of a prosthesis, the most important self-help measure is to go to the doctor immediately and to inform him as precisely as possible about the symptoms. The individual complaints can be recorded using an illness diary, which makes the subsequent diagnosis considerably easier.

The actual treatment can be supported primarily by bed rest and adequate personal hygiene . Since prosthetics is an infectious disease, contact with other people must be avoided. In addition, various ointments and lotions made from natural herbs can be used to support the treatment with medicinal preparations. After an operation, the patient must take it easy and follow the doctor’s instructions. The doctor will recommend a change in diet and regular use of pain medication. At the same time, the body must be observed so that any recurrences can be recognized quickly.

At the same time, the cause of the disease must be determined and eliminated. It is usually sufficient to avoid contact with the triggering prototheca. In the case of serious illnesses that may have already left scars, psychological counseling makes sense in order to avoid any subsequent psychological problems.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.