Osteomyelitis is inflammation or infection of a bone that is usually caused by bacterial infection. Bone infections in children are primarily hematogenous, or they originated in the blood, although osteomyelitis secondary to penetrating trauma, surgery, or infection can also occur. Osteomyelitis is a serious condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Staphylococcus aureus (staph) is the most common bacteria to cause osteomyelitis, followed by Streptococcus (strep) pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes. Gram-negative bacteria and group B streptococci are common in newborns. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is often seen after penetrating wounds of the foot through a sneaker or shoe. Premature babies and children who are immunocompromised are especially prone to osteomyelitis due to various fungi and bacteria. Children with sickle cell disease or other blood disorders can develop osteomyelitis from salmonella.
In children, osteomyelitis most commonly occurs at the ends of the long bones of the arms and legs, including the femur, tibia and humerus, hips, knees, shoulders, and wrists. In adults, it is more common in the vertebrae (bones of the spine) or in the pelvis. The bacteria or infection can enter the body many different ways including:
- Infected cuts or wounds
- Open or compound fractures where the bone comes thru the skin
- Infected umbilical artery (UA) or umbilical vein (UV) lines
- Infected intravenous (IV) lines, central lines, PICC catheters or CVP lines
- Infected dialysis shunts
- Infected joints
- Decubitus ulcers
- Foreign objects or anything that punctures the skin
- Dog, cat, insect, spider or animal bites
- Untreated infections in other parts of the body, such as an ear infection, urinary tract infection, or surgical wound infection
While symptoms of a bone infection or osteomyelitis can vary, the most common signs are fever, bone pain, edema or swelling, redness, favoring or guarding the affected bone, inability to support weight, not moving the affected limb, tenderness, or warmth around the infected area. In most cases, if the infection was diagnosed early enough, it can be cured with antibiotics. If left untreated for too long, it can lead to the destruction of the bone, surrounding muscles, tendons and blood vessels or amputation of the limb. In infants or children, if the osteomyelitis or bone infection involves the growth plate, that extremity may not be able to grow anymore leading to one arm or leg being shorter than the opposite or unaffected side.
If you, your child, or a loved one had an infection while in a hospital, extended care facility, assisted living facility or nursing home and it led to osteomyelitis we may be able to help you. Our experienced medical malpractice infection teams consist of lawyers, doctors, and nurses who have worked in hospitals and treated patients with life-threatening infections. In addition to our legal expertise, we are also familiar with the inner workings of a hospital or nursing home and know that very important information may not make its way into a patients chart, but it exists. Please feel free to call one of our experienced attorneys, doctors or nurses for a confidential and free consultation or contact us online using this form. Since 1958, we have been awarded over $2 billion dollars on behalf of our injured clients. We were there when they needed us and we are here for you now.