Get Treatment For Osteomyelitis

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Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Osteomyelitis Treatment?

At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, our specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating osteomyelitis. With osteomyelitis, time is of the essence. Contact our specialists today and take the first step towards healing!

Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications for patients. Most commonly, osteomyelitis is the result of an infection of the blood that spreads to the bone; infection from an open wound; or the result of a fracture or surgical procedure.

In the case of osteomyelitis, drugs are the first line of defense. Once your doctor has diagnosed you with osteomyelitis, the most common course of treatment is antibiotics. Sometimes your doctor will prescribe a few weeks of intravenous antibiotics to stop the infection.

If your case is more serious and osteomyelitis has already affected the bone or tissue, surgery may be necessary. To prevent the infection from spreading further, your doctor may drain the infected area and may remove any infected bone and tissue.

Non-suppurative Osteomyelitis »
Suppurative Osteomyelitis »

Symptoms of Osteomyelitis

Acute osteomyelitis has a very quick development cycle and presents with the following symptoms, similar to chronic osteomyelitis:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Limited motion range
  • Irritability or lethargy in children
  • Redness in the infected area
  • Swelling around the affected bone
  • Tenderness and a sensation of warmth around the infected area
  • Pain in the infected area

Diagnosis of Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis might, at least in the beginning, look like many other conditions. This is why it is important that your doctor conducts the proper tests to provide a correct diagnosis:

  • Blood tests will show infection by revealing high levels of white blood cells. These tests are the primary line of investigation, but not enough to confirm osteomyelitis.
  • Bone biopsy is the most definite means of diagnosing osteomyelitis, as it can show the exact cause of infection and allow for tailored antibiotic treatment. However, it requires surgery under anesthesia for the doctor to collect the biopsy sample.
  • Imaging tests like X-rays, MRI, or CT scans can show damage to the bone. These tests, however, can only reveal – or rather confirm – a condition that is already severe enough to produce bone lesions.

Risk Factors for Osteomyelitis

There are certain factors that greatly increase one's risk for osteomyelitis:

  • Diabetes (most cases of osteomyelitis stem from diabetes)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Recent surgery
  • Infected prosthetic joints
  • Alcoholism
  • Long-term use of steroids
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Hemodialysis
  • Urinary catheter
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Recent open wound
  • Chemotherapy
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Long-term use of intravenous tubing

Causes of Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is most commonly caused by infection with a common staph bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. S. aureus is naturally present in almost a third of the human population and can sometimes cause cellulitis, abscesses, or pimples, but is also responsible, aside from osteomyelitis, for very serious conditions such as meningitis, toxic shock syndrome, and sepsis, and is a common cause of hospital-acquired infections – which is one of the causes of osteomyelitis after surgery.

Osteomyelitis can occur in both children and adults. In children, it is usually acute and presents in the arm or leg bones. In adults, this condition can be acute or chronic; chronic osteomyelitis is recurrent and more difficult to deal with.

If you feel bone pain and notice persistent fever, contact a doctor immediately to avoid serious complications.

Complications from Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is easy enough to treat once it is detected and correctly diagnosed. However, if it is not, there are serious complications that may occur:

  • Osteonecrosis, or bone death, occurs when blood no longer circulates within the bone. The result is that part of the bone literally dies. If the dead section is small enough, it can be removed through surgery. If the infection has spread to a larger section, the limb may have to be amputated to prevent the infection from spreading further.
  • Impaired growth may occur in children whose osteomyelitis is not detected soon enough.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma. It is rare, but possible that an open wound that gets infected and develops pus may infect the surrounding skin and lead to this type of skin cancer.
  • Septic arthritis may develop when the bone infection spreads into an adjacent joint.

As osteomyelitis is an infection, it is inadvisable to attempt alternative treatments unsanctioned by a medical specialist, to cure this condition. While there are a number of medical adjunct therapies under consideration, from hyperbaric oxygen therapy to ultrasound therapy, remember that infections not treated by a doctor can spread throughout the body and lead to loss of function and even death.

As with many things, it is much easier to prevent osteomyelitis, as prevention merely requires cleanliness and attentiveness. If you have a cut, clean it or, better yet, have a doctor clean it and apply sterile bandages. The same goes for children – make sure their cuts and scrapes are well flushed out, cleaned, and bandaged.

If in a hospital, make sure you signal any unusual pain or sign of a fever. Also, as with many other circumstances, make sure your doctor is fully informed of your conditions, such as diabetes, blood circulation problems, drug use, or anything that might be even remotely relevant. It is always important to act quickly, detect and treat the infection as soon as possible.

Are you suffering from osteomyelitis? For any questions, information, or guidance related to osteomyelitis, get in touch with our specialty-trained, skilled general surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.

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