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Osteomyelitis

Definition

Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. The infection may be:

  • Acute—for a short time
  • Chronic—lasting for a long time

In adults, the pelvis and the bones of the back are the most common sites. In children, the long bones are most likely to be affected. These are found in the arms and legs.

Causes

Osteomyelitis is caused by specific bacteria.

Risk Factors

Osteomyelitis is more common in males, or in young children and older adults. Other factors that increase your chance of osteomyelitis include:

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Bone pain
  • Fever or chills
  • Tenderness, warmth, swelling, or redness of the skin or joint
  • Drainage of pus
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue or irritability
  • Restricted movement of the area
  • A sore over a bone that does not heal

Skin Infection Spreading to Bone
Bone Infection
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Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:

Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

Treatment

The affected area may be treated with a splint to prevent it from moving. Avoiding weight bearing activities may also be advised.

Antibiotics

This infection is treated with antibiotics. They are given by IV and sometimes by mouth. Acute osteomyelitis is generally treated for at least 4-6 weeks. Chronic osteomyelitis may require antibiotics for a longer period of time.

This infection is treated with antibiotics. They are given by IV and sometimes by mouth. Acute osteomyelitis is generally treated for at least 4-6 weeks. Chronic osteomyelitis may require antibiotics for a longer period of time.

Surgery

Surgery may be required to:

  • Clean infected bone via scraping and irrigating the area
  • Remove any fragments of dead bone or tissue that may prolong the infection

In severe cases, amputation may be necessary.

Skin Graft

In some situations, your doctor may recommend a skin graft . The skin in the affected area is replaced with healthy skin taken from another part of your body.

Prevention

To reduce your risk of getting osteomyelitis:

  • Seek immediate medical care for infections or injuries.
  • Keep diabetes under good control.
  • Do not use illegal drugs.
  • See your doctor for any sores that do not heal.
  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit .

Revision Information

  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

    http://www.niams.nih.gov

  • Ortho Info - American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

    http://orthoinfo.org

  • Canadian Orthopaedic Association

    http://www.coa-aco.org

  • Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

    http://www.canorth.org

  • Bone and joint infections. Mayo Clinic Health Letter. February 26, 2001.

  • Carek PJ, Dickerson LM, et al. Diagnosis and management of osteomyelitis. Am Fam Physician. 2001;63(12).

  • Osteomyelitis. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/orthopaedics-rheumatology/diseases-conditions/hic-osteomyelitis.aspx. Updated January 12, 2009. Accessed June 19, 2014.

  • Osteomyelitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 25, 2014. Accessed June 19, 2014.

  • Osteomyelitis. Nemours' Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases%5Fconditions/bones/osteomyelitis.html. Updated October 2013. Accessed June 19, 2014.