DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Osteomyelitis is an infection in a bone. Infections can reach a bone by traveling through the bloodstream or spreading from nearby tissue. Infections can also begin in the bone itself if an injury exposes the bone to germs.
In children, osteomyelitis most commonly affects the long bones of the legs and upper arms. Adults are more likely to develop osteomyelitis in the bones that make up the spine (vertebrae). People who have diabetes may develop osteomyelitis in their feet if they have foot ulcers.
Once considered an incurable condition, osteomyelitis can be successfully treated today. Most people require surgery to remove parts of the bone that have died — followed by strong antibiotics, often delivered intravenously, typically for at least four to six weeks.
Sept. 25, 2015
- Ferri FF. Osteomyelitis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 11, 2015.
- Marcdante KJ, et al. Osteomyelitis. In: Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 11, 2015.
- Osteomyelitis. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal-and-connective-tissue-disorders/infections-of-joints-and-bones/osteomyelitis. Accessed Sept. 11, 2015.
- Kremers HM, et al. Trends in the epidemiology of osteomyelitis: A population-based study, 1969 to 2009. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 2015;97:837.
- Lalani T. Overview of osteomyelitis. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 13, 2015.
- Marx JA, et al., eds. Bone and joint infections. In: Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 13, 2015.
- Radcliffe G, Osteomyelitis: A historical and basic sciences review. Orthopaedics and Trauma. In press. Accessed Sept. 13, 2015.