Bone infections , also known as osteomyelitis, are serious medical problems that require the skillful treatment planning of an orthopedist. Frequently, surgery is needed to treat the infection. A bone infection may be acute, which means it develops suddenly. Chronic osteomyelitis may linger for years, flaring up intermittently before subsiding again with treatment.
What causes bone infections?
Usually, staphylococcus bacteria cause osteomyelitis. These bacteria can enter the body through deep puncture wounds or surgical sites. It’s also possible for these bacteria to travel from another infected area to bone tissue. For example, a urinary tract infection may allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, travel to the bone tissue, and cause a bone infection.
Can children develop bone infections?
Children and adults can both suffer from this disease. Usually, children who develop bone infections do so in the long bones found in the limbs. Adults are more likely to develop infections of the bones of the hips, feet, and spine.
How will I know if I have a bone infection?
Only your doctor can diagnose a bone infection. You might go to the orthopedist if you experience bone pain, and swelling , warmth, or redness on the skin over the site of infection. A bone infection can cause a fever with chills. To diagnose a bone infection, an orthopedist may order any of the following tests:
- Blood tests
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
- Bone biopsy
The bone biopsy is the most effective way to diagnose a bone infection, as it allows the orthopedist to determine which type of germ has caused the problem.
Are bone infections treatable?
Bone infections are most often treated with surgery. Surgical approaches include:
- Draining pus from the infected area
- Performing surgical debridement to remove diseased bone
- Removing infected foreign objects (i.e. surgical screws or plates)
- Placing a bone or tissue graft
- Amputating the limb
Amputation is a last resort option that may be performed when it’s necessary to save the patient’s life. After osteomyelitis surgery, patients will typically have intravenous antibiotics for four to six weeks.
At Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine , we understand that a serious medical diagnosis can be distressing. When patients with bone infections in Queens visit our orthopedic specialist, they benefit from the 20-plus years of experience he brings to the treatment room. For the specialized care you need, call our orthopedist at (718) 897-2228.