Osteomyelitis is an infection in the bone. Infection is more common in the long bones of the body, but it can affect any bone in the body. Osteomyelitis can occur in children of any age but is more common in premature infants and babies born with complications.
Many different types of bacteria and viruses can cause osteomyelitis. The most common type of bacteria is called Staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria can enter the body in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, the following:
The physician makes the diagnosis of osteomyelitis with a complete medical history of the child, physical examination and diagnostic tests. The physician obtains a complete prenatal and birth history of the child and asks if the child has any recent colds or other infections. Diagnostic procedures may include:
A diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film.
A diagnostic test which uses magnetic energy to visualize bones and other organs. It is a very sensitive test for early bone infections.
A nuclear imaging method to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joints; to detect bone diseases and tumors; to determine the cause of bone pain or inflammation.
Includes a complete blood count (CBC), blood culture and tests of inflammation (known as ESR and CRP).
The following are the most common symptoms of osteomyelitis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
It is important to seek medical attention immediately if osteomyelitis is suspected. The symptoms of osteomyelitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
Specific treatment for osteomyelitis will be determined by your child's physician based on:
The goal of treatment is to relieve the pain and completely treat the infection. Treatment may include one, or a combination, of the following:
In most cases, the infection is cured with antibiotic medication. In severe cases of osteomyelitis, the infection can be very destructive to the bone, surrounding muscles, tendons and blood vessels, resulting in the amputation of the infected limb.