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Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis)

Bone infections are caused by bacteria which can enter the bone via the bloodstream if there is an infection nearby or can be caused by an ‘open’ fracture or other injury where a wound penetrates to the bone. If bone infections aren’t treated effectively:

  • The bone can die (osteonecrosis)
  • Arthritis can develop
  • Bone may not grow correctly

How is bone infection diagnosed?

During your first appointment, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your symptoms with Mr Heidari, who will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment. He will also arrange for you to have blood tests and X-rays along with an MRI scan and CT scan to show the bone problem in greater detail and back up the diagnosis.

What does treatment involve?

Treatment involves taking antibiotics to treat the infection, along with surgery to remove any bone or soft tissue that has been affected.  Infected bone can die (necrosis), causing bone loss; if this happens then you may need to have surgery so that the bone can be reconstructed.

Before surgery

You can help improve the outcome of surgery by attending a pre-assessment screening where you’ll have blood tests to check for levels of Vitamin D and swabs to rule out infection or other problems. You’ll also be weighed and have an opportunity to discuss your medical history. This is important so that any anaesthetics problems can be identified.

Please note: it’s important to stop smoking at least eight weeks before your procedure; this is because smoking can affect the body’s ability to heal and causes health problems including an increased risk of blood clots forming in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) or calf (deep vein thrombosis).

What can I do to speed up my recovery?

Raising your foot above the level of your heart and keeping weight off the foot as much as possible during the first few days can help with recovery. Make sure you follow any advice about keeping the wound clean and dry, and carry out the exercises advised by your physiotherapist as these will help you to return to your normal activities as quickly as possible.

Please note: it’s important to avoid smoking or taking anti-inflammatory painkillers as these can slow the healing process.

What are the risks of surgery?

  • All surgery carries risks. With this type of surgery, risks include a small chance of infection which can be treated with antibiotics
  • There is a small chance of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) following any surgery, although this is unusual following this type of surgery. However, you may be given blood-thinning medication after surgery as a precaution or if you are at higher risk. You will also be given support socks and exercises to reduce the chances of DVT