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Osteomyelitis

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Osteomyelitis is a severe bone infection. It can develop in any bone, but often involves the long bones, such as your arm and leg bones, or the bones of the spine. Osteomyelitis is caused by different types of germs, such as bacteria or a fungus.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever.

  • Antibiotics are given to treat a bacterial infection.

  • Antifungals are given to treat a fungal infection.

Tests:

  • Blood tests will show kidney function and if the infection is improving.

  • X-ray, CT, or MRI takes pictures of your bone and tissue to look for infection and damage. You may be given dye to help the bone and tissue show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • A bone scan shows diseased or damaged bones. A radioactive liquid, called a tracer, is given through an IV. The tracer collects in your bones so problems show up better on the monitor.

Treatment:

  • Bed rest and immobilization with a splint may be needed to help your bone heal.

  • Debridement is a procedure to remove part or all of the infected bone and some tissues around it. This may help keep the infection from spreading to other bones and parts of your body.

  • Revascularization is a procedure to place healthy muscle and skin in areas where infection was removed. A large cavity (hole) may remain when a large or deep infection is cleaned and removed. The muscle and skin flaps have good blood flow and help fill the cavity.

  • Skin or bone grafting is a procedure to remove a thin piece of healthy skin or bone from one part of the body. The healthy piece of skin or bone is then put onto the injured part of the body. A skin graft can help close the wound or lessen the amount of scarring.

  • Stabilization is a procedure to insert metal pins, screws, or plates to hold weak bones together. This may help correct broken bones that did not join together correctly and caused an infection.

  • Amputation is surgery to remove all or part of a limb. Amputation may be done if the bone infection is severe. This may help keep the infection from spreading to other bones.

RISKS:

Your infection may return. You may develop an abscess (pus pocket). The infection may spread to your blood, bones, or organs. Your bones may be weakened and fracture or not heal properly. If you have a prosthetic implant, it may loosen. Severe infection can cause bone death. This can lead to an amputation or disability. If you have an infection in your vertebrae (bones of your spine), swelling may put pressure on your spinal cord. This may cause paralysis of your legs or arms. You may need surgery to remove part of the infected bone.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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