Osteomyelitis (bone infection)


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Description

Bacteria can infect bones in a number of ways. Bacteria can travel into the bone through the bloodstream from other infected areas in the body. This is called hematogenous osteomyelitis, and is the most common way that people get bone infections. Another way is by direct infection, when bacteria enter the bodys tissues through a wound and travel to the bone.

The symptoms of osteomyelitis can include pain and/or tenderness in the infected area, swelling and warmth in the infected area, fever, nausea, secondarily from being ill with infection, general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling, drainage of pus through the skin. Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease include excessive sweating, chills, lower back pain (if the spine is involved), swelling of the ankles, feet, and legs, changes in gait (walking pattern that is a painful, yielding a limp).

Open fractures are the injuries that most often develop osteomyelitis, or a chronic open wound or soft tissue infection can eventually extend down to the bone surface, leading to a secondary bone infection.

Causes and Risk factors

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection often caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. Depending on how the bone becomes infected and the age of the person, other types of bacteria can cause it, too. In kids and teens, osteomyelitis usually affects the long bones of the arms and legs.

Osteomyelitis can affect both adults and children. The bacteria or fungus that can cause osteomyelitis, however, differs among age groups. In adults, osteomyelitis often affects the vertebrae and the pelvis. In children, osteomyelitis usually affects the adjacent ends of long bones. Long bones (bones of the limbs) are large, dense bones that provide strength, structure, and mobility. They include the femur and tibia in the legs and the humerus and radius in the arms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The most common treatments for osteomyelitis are antibiotics and surgery to remove portions of bone that are infected or dead. A bone biopsy will reveal what type of germ is causing the infection, so the doctor can choose an antibiotic that works particularly well for that type of infection. The antibiotics are usually administered through a vein in the arm for at least six weeks. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. ...