Acute Osteomyelitis - Clinicals, Diagnosis, and Management

Orthopedics

Clinicals - History

Fact Explanation
Limping or inability to walk Due to pain caused by the underlying inflammatory process of the bone and the marrow, cortex, periosteum and surrounding soft tissues. Limping or inability to walk
Due to pain caused by the underlying inflammatory process of the bone and the marrow, cortex, periosteum and surrounding soft tissues.
Fever Systemic reaction to microbial infection. Illness duration is 2 weeks in acute presentation and up to 3 months in sub acute presentation. Fever
Systemic reaction to microbial infection. Illness duration is 2 weeks in acute presentation and up to 3 months in sub acute presentation.
Visible erythema and swelling Due to the underlying inflammation of the long bones. More often seen in legs than arms. Visible erythema and swelling
Due to the underlying inflammation of the long bones. More often seen in legs than arms.
Back pain Manifestation of vertebral osteomyelitis. Back pain
Manifestation of vertebral osteomyelitis.
Symptoms of vascular insufficiency eg: claudication, rest pain etc. Impaired blood supply makes under perfused tissue susceptible to microbial invasion. Often associated with diabetes mellitus or peripheral vascular disease. Symptoms of vascular insufficiency eg: claudication, rest pain etc.
Impaired blood supply makes under perfused tissue susceptible to microbial invasion. Often associated with diabetes mellitus or peripheral vascular disease.
History of trauma Open fractures allow for direct inoculation of microbial organisms in to the bone. History of trauma
Open fractures allow for direct inoculation of microbial organisms in to the bone.
History of diabetes mellitus 15% of patients with diabetic foot ulcer may develop acute osteomyelitis. History of diabetes mellitus
15% of patients with diabetic foot ulcer may develop acute osteomyelitis.
Immunocompromised state Hypoxemia, chronic renal or hepatic insufficiency, malignancy, diabetes or use of immunosuppressive medication can hinder the normal immune function and healing. Immunocompromised state
Hypoxemia, chronic renal or hepatic insufficiency, malignancy, diabetes or use of immunosuppressive medication can hinder the normal immune function and healing.

Clinicals - Examination

Fact Explanation
Erythema Caused by underlying inflammatory process. Erythema
Caused by underlying inflammatory process.
Focal tenderness Usually inflammation in osteomyelitis is limited to regions of long bone particularly the metaphysis. Focal tenderness
Usually inflammation in osteomyelitis is limited to regions of long bone particularly the metaphysis.
Multi-focal tenderness Commonly seen in neonates, where acute hematogenous osteomyelitis can affect multiple foci. Multi-focal tenderness
Commonly seen in neonates, where acute hematogenous osteomyelitis can affect multiple foci.
Diabetic foot ulcer Commonly causes osteomyelitis of meta tarsal or tarsal bones. Risk is increased in large (>2cm) in diameter and deep (>3mm) wounds. Diabetic foot ulcer
Commonly causes osteomyelitis of meta tarsal or tarsal bones. Risk is increased in large (>2cm) in diameter and deep (>3mm) wounds.
Paucity of movements Can be observed in neonates and young children. Due to the pain, movement is avoided in the affected limb. Paucity of movements
Can be observed in neonates and young children. Due to the pain, movement is avoided in the affected limb.
Edema Due to the underlying inflammatory process. Edema
Due to the underlying inflammatory process.
Features of vascular insufficiency Poorly perfused tissue is more susceptible to microbial invasion. Features of vascular insufficiency
Poorly perfused tissue is more susceptible to microbial invasion.
Surgical scars Orthopedic implants, previous open fractures increase risk of direct inoculation by microbes. Surgical scars
Orthopedic implants, previous open fractures increase risk of direct inoculation by microbes.
Features of septic arthritis of adjacent joint Usually seen in neonates and young children. Due to spread of metaphyseal infection through the epiphyseal plate. Features of septic arthritis of adjacent joint
Usually seen in neonates and young children. Due to spread of metaphyseal infection through the epiphyseal plate.
Pain on Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) Suggestive of sacral osteomyelitis Pain on Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
Suggestive of sacral osteomyelitis

Investigations - Diagnosis

Fact Explanation
Blood culture and antibiogram Determination of the causal organism is vital in diagnosis and in further management. Many organisms have been implicated in the etiology of osteomyelitis but Staphylococcus aureus is the most commonly isolated organism. Exclusion of MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) by performing an antibiogram is important in subsequent choice of antibiotics. Blood culture and antibiogram
Determination of the causal organism is vital in diagnosis and in further management. Many organisms have been implicated in the etiology of osteomyelitis but Staphylococcus aureus is the most commonly isolated organism. Exclusion of MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) by performing an antibiogram is important in subsequent choice of antibiotics.
Bone Biopsy Blood cultures are usually only positive in 50 percent of patients. A bone biopsy allows for direct aspiration of the sequestrum to obtain samples of microbial pathogens. Should be performed through uninfected skin, it is indicated if cultures are persistently negative with a high clinical suspicion of osteomyelitis. Bone Biopsy
Blood cultures are usually only positive in 50 percent of patients. A bone biopsy allows for direct aspiration of the sequestrum to obtain samples of microbial pathogens. Should be performed through uninfected skin, it is indicated if cultures are persistently negative with a high clinical suspicion of osteomyelitis.
C Reactive Protein (CRP) Always elevated; a normal CRP effectively rules out acute osteomyelitis. C Reactive Protein (CRP)
Always elevated; a normal CRP effectively rules out acute osteomyelitis.
Complete Blood Count (CBC) Shows a neutrophil leucocytosis with increased left shift. Characteristic of bacterial infection. Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Shows a neutrophil leucocytosis with increased left shift. Characteristic of bacterial infection.
Plain X-Ray Useful in ruling out other possible pathologies such as osteoporotic fractures. Shows changes two weeks after onset of osteomyelitis, when half of the bone mineral content has been lost. Shows a periostial (concentric ring pattern) reaction and osteolysis. Plain X-Ray
Useful in ruling out other possible pathologies such as osteoporotic fractures. Shows changes two weeks after onset of osteomyelitis, when half of the bone mineral content has been lost. Shows a periostial (concentric ring pattern) reaction and osteolysis.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Shows changes within 3 to 5 days. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Shows changes within 3 to 5 days.
Technetium 99 bone scintigraphy Positive within days of onset of osteomyelitis. Sensitivity is comparable to MRI but specificity is poor. Technetium 99 bone scintigraphy
Positive within days of onset of osteomyelitis. Sensitivity is comparable to MRI but specificity is poor.

Investigations - Management

Fact Explanation
C Reactive Protein (CRP) To monitor response to antibiotics. Declining levels of CRP usually suggest a favorable response to treatment, even if the fever doesn't subside. C Reactive Protein (CRP)
To monitor response to antibiotics. Declining levels of CRP usually suggest a favorable response to treatment, even if the fever doesn't subside.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Osteomyelitis is staged based on degree of infiltration into the bone.
Stage 1: medullary osteomyelitis
Stage 2: superficial osteomyelitis
Involves the cortex
Stage 3: localized osteomyelitis
Stage 4: diffuse osteomyelitis extensive disease
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Osteomyelitis is staged based on degree of infiltration into the bone.
Stage 1: medullary osteomyelitis
Stage 2: superficial osteomyelitis
Involves the cortex
Stage 3: localized osteomyelitis
Stage 4: diffuse osteomyelitis extensive disease

Management - Supportive

Fact Explanation
Analgesia Extremely painful, adequate pain relief is indicated. Can be achieved with pharmacotherapy (Coxibs, NSAIDS or opioids) or splinting of the affected limb. Analgesia
Extremely painful, adequate pain relief is indicated. Can be achieved with pharmacotherapy (Coxibs, NSAIDS or opioids) or splinting of the affected limb.
Anti pyretic medication Symptomatic treatment of fever. Anti pyretic medication
Symptomatic treatment of fever.
Nutrition Ensure adequate nutrition and hydration as osteomyelitis causes a loss appetite due to the systemic reaction to infection. Nutrition
Ensure adequate nutrition and hydration as osteomyelitis causes a loss appetite due to the systemic reaction to infection.

Management - Specific

Fact Explanation
Emprical parenteral antibiotics Instituted empirically on clinical suspicion. Frequent and large doses are used in order to achieve penetration into the bone.
Usually first generation cephalosporins, anti staphylococcal penicillins are used.
Clindamycin or Vancomycin is indicated where there is >10% prevalence of MRSA in the community. Alternatively ampicillin should be first line in children who have not been vaccinated for H.influenzae type b.
Emprical parenteral antibiotics
Instituted empirically on clinical suspicion. Frequent and large doses are used in order to achieve penetration into the bone.
Usually first generation cephalosporins, anti staphylococcal penicillins are used.
Clindamycin or Vancomycin is indicated where there is >10% prevalence of MRSA in the community. Alternatively ampicillin should be first line in children who have not been vaccinated for H.influenzae type b.
Parenteral antibiotics guided by culture and antibiogram Should be guided by the results of microbiological cultures. Parenteral therapy is continued until the patient improves clinically and CRP normalizes. However uncomplicated cases may require parenteral antibiotics for only a week and subsequent treatment is continued with oral antibiotics. Parenteral antibiotics guided by culture and antibiogram
Should be guided by the results of microbiological cultures. Parenteral therapy is continued until the patient improves clinically and CRP normalizes. However uncomplicated cases may require parenteral antibiotics for only a week and subsequent treatment is continued with oral antibiotics.
Oral antibiotics Oral antibiotics are used once patients improve clinically and the CRP normalizes. Most cases benefit from a 20 day regimen of antibiotics provided that clinical response is good and the CRP normalizes within 7 to 10 days. However in acute MRSA infection treatment for 4 to 6 weeks is recommended. Shorter regimens are advocated to reduce healthcare expenditure though many clinicians prefer the traditional six week regimen. Oral antibiotics
Oral antibiotics are used once patients improve clinically and the CRP normalizes. Most cases benefit from a 20 day regimen of antibiotics provided that clinical response is good and the CRP normalizes within 7 to 10 days. However in acute MRSA infection treatment for 4 to 6 weeks is recommended. Shorter regimens are advocated to reduce healthcare expenditure though many clinicians prefer the traditional six week regimen.
Surgical debridement Indicated when a patient fails to improve following parenteral antibiotic therapy for 48 hours. Drainage of pus and excision of non viable tissue is performed. Surgical debridement
Indicated when a patient fails to improve following parenteral antibiotic therapy for 48 hours. Drainage of pus and excision of non viable tissue is performed.
Ilizarov method If surgical debridement is performed and a large section of bone is removed it is possible to promote bone growth through distraction osteogenesis using a specialized device. Ilizarov method
If surgical debridement is performed and a large section of bone is removed it is possible to promote bone growth through distraction osteogenesis using a specialized device.
Bone graft Vascularized bone grafts retain their intrinsic blood supply and enable the surgeon to achieve sound bony union irrespective of the length of the bone defect that occurs due to debridement and suppuration. Bone graft
Vascularized bone grafts retain their intrinsic blood supply and enable the surgeon to achieve sound bony union irrespective of the length of the bone defect that occurs due to debridement and suppuration.

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