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Know more about Osteomyelitis

Know more about Osteomyelitis
Atefa Noorain
Atefa Noorain
February02/ 2017


Osteomyelitis is commonly known as bone infection that is caused due to bacteria and fungi. Bone infections are mostly common and occur mainly in the long bones of your arms and legs. Osteomyelitis is usually seen in hips, spine and feet. Osteomyelitis or bone infections occur suddenly or develop over a long period of time. Osteomyelitis can permanently damage your bones if left untreated.

Osteomyelitis Causes

Organisms like Staphylococcus aureus can lead to osteomyelitis. These causative organisms generally travel through the bloodstream resulting in bone infection. Once the infection begins in one part of your body, it can spread to the bones through blood stream

Organisms that enter in your body through severe injury, deep cut or wound can also infect your bones resulting in osteomyelitis. Bacteria can also enter in your body during a surgical procedure like hip replacement or bone fracture repair.  Bacteria can also invade the bone when your bone breaks leading to osteomyelitis.

The causative organism Staphylococcus aureus generally appears on the skin surface but don’t always cause any major health issues. Infection is commonly seen in people with a weak immune system and people who have met with an accident recently.

Osteomyelitis Symptoms

The most common symptoms of osteomyelitis include the following:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Redness in the infected area
  • Irritability
  • Swelling on the site of infection
  • Stiffness or inability to use an affected limb

Osteomyelitis Diagnosis

There are several tests that help in the diagnosis of osteomyelitis. The common diagnostic tests include:

  • Physical examination

Physical examination helps in determining the swelling, pain and discoloration of the infected area.

  • Blood test

Blood tests are done mostly to the check the presence of organism in your blood.

  • Urine and Stool analysis

Urine and stool analysis is done to know the severity of infection in your body.

  • Throat swabs

Throat swabs are rarely done to diagnose ostemyelitis. In rare cases this test is done to know the presence of organisms in your throat sample.

  • Bone scans

Bone scans are done in case of bone injury which will give a clear detailed picture for your doctor to understand the condition of your bone. It also helps in knowing to what extent the damage is done in your bone due to the Staphylococcus aureus.

  • MRI and bone biopsy

MRI and bone biopsy is rarely done when the exact information is not provided through bone scans and X-ray.

Risk Factors of Osteomyelitis

There are many different factors that can increase the chances of osteomyelitis. The common risk factors include:

  • Diabetes that affect the blood supply to your bones
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Hemodialysis
  • Trauma
  • Artificial joints that has become infected and can spread the infection
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Smoking

Osteomyelitis Prevention

Osteomyelitis can be prevented by taking care of the minimal hygiene. You need to thoroughly wash and clean the open cuts and wounds to prevent the entry of organisms. Before placing the prosthesis, clean and dry the amputation sites. You can use proper suitable footwear to avoid injuries while jumping, running and other physical activities.

Atefa Noorain
Atefa Noorain

Atefa Noorain, (Microbiologist) former Head of the Department of Life Sciences, Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Sujatha Degree College for Women. She worked as an Associate Research Analyst at Thomson Reuters and an Associate Editor of two research journals. She has presented her research work in 3 International Conferences. She has written articles for national journals and international journals. She had been felicitated as a Young Speaker in the last conference. She has worked on Nanoparticles as a part of her research project and won the Best Scientist of the Day award.

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