Osteomyelitis is infection of a bone. Infection occurs via the bloodstream or spreading from adjacent infected tissue. Infection may commence in the bone itself after trauma exposes the bone to microbes. Children develop osteomyelitis of the long bones of the arms and legs. Adults develop osteomyelitis in the vertebrae.
The condition can be successfully treated.
What Are The Common Causes Of Osteomyelitis?
Most cases are caused by staphylococcus bacteria, they gain entry through:
- Trauma: Microbes enter the body if you have a fracture and the bone is sticking out through the skin. Direct contamination may occur during a surgery of joint replacement or fracture repair.
- The blood: Infections in other parts of the body like, from the lungs, pneumonia microbes may spread or urinary tract infection may spread from the bladder via the blood to a weak spot in a bone and trigger infection there.
- Infected tissue or an infected prosthetic joint: Microbes can spread in to a nearby bone and cause infection there.
Symptoms Of Osteomyelitis
Signs and symptoms of osteomyelitis are:
- Pain in the area of infection.
- Irritability or lethargy in children.
- Inflammation, swelling, redness and warmth over the affected area.
- Occasionally, the case may be completely asymptomatic; i.e. no manifesting symptoms at all.
Surgical Treatment Of Osteomyelitis
The most common treatment option for osteomyelitis is surgery to get rid of segments of the bone which is infected or necrotized, followed by antibiotic therapy. Hospitalization is necessary.
Based upon the intensity of the infection, surgery may include one or more of these procedures:
- Drain the infected area: The surgeon will open up the area around the infected bone and drain pus or fluid which has built up due to the infection.
- A technique called debridement is carried out by the surgeon to get rid of as much of the bone that is infected / dead, and also excise out the periphery of healthy bone to make sure that all the infected area has been completely eliminated.
- Re-establish flow of blood to the bone: The empty space that is left by the debridement procedure needs to be filled up with a piece of bone or skin or muscle, from another part of your body. At times temporary fillers are placed till you are healthy enough to undertake a bone or tissue graft. The graft will help the body repair the damaged blood vessels and form a new bone.
- Get rid of foreign objects: Occasionally, foreign objects, such as surgical screws or screws that have been inserted during an earlier surgery, may need to be removed.
- Amputate the limb: An amputation of the affected limb may be necessary to put a stop to the infection.
Medications: A bone biopsy needs to be done; it will show what microbe is causing the infection, so the doctor can select the right antibiotic which will work particularly well for that type of infection. Antibiotics are given via a vein in your arm for 6 weeks. In some case, an additional course of oral antibiotics may be required for more serious infections.