Osteomyelitis
En Español (Spanish Version)

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

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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.

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.



RESOURCES:
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Ortho Info - American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

CANADIAN RESOURCES
Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

References:
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_conditions/bones/osteomyelitis.html. Updated October 2013. Accessed June 19, 2014.

Last Reviewed May 2014



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