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osteomyelitis (ŏsˌtēōmīˌəlīˈtĭs), infection of the bone and bone marrow. Direct infection of bone usually occurs through open fractures, penetrating wounds, or surgical operations. Infecting microorganisms may also reach the bone via the bloodstream, the most common means of bone infection in children. Osteomyelitis is characterized by pain, high fever, and formation of an abscess at the site of infection. Infection may be caused by a variety of microorganisms, including staphylococci, streptococci, and other pathogenic bacteria. Unless treated vigorously with antibiotics and sometimes surgery, bone destruction may result.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an infectious, inflammatory process that involves first the bone marrow and then elements of one or more bones. Osteomyelitis may be nonspecific—that is, caused by pyogenic cocci or less commonly by the colon or other bacilli—and specific (tuberculous and syphilitic osteomyelitis). Nonspecific osteomyelitis, the more common form, may be hematogenous, in which case the causative agent is in the blood; may be secondary, that is, spread to bone from organs and tissues affected with an inflammatory disease; or may result from exogenous infection of bone from a wound, such as a gunshot wound or an open fracture. The most common forms of osteomyelitis are those that affect the diaphyseal parts of tubular bones; paronychia, which affects the phalanges of fingers; odontogenic osteomyelitis, which affects the jaw; and otogenic osteomyelitis, in which the temporal bone is affected. The disease can develop at any age, and the course may be acute, primary chronic, or chronic as a progression from the acute form. The hematogenous form is most widespread in infants, and the secondary form in adolescents and adults. Gunshot osteomyelitis often complicates the course of extensive wounds during war.

The first symptoms of osteomyelitis are a general and local elevation of temperature with chills, as in sepsis, severe pain in the inflammatory focus, and tenderness and restriction of movement in the affected segment. The disease is diagnosed at this time by roentgenography. Softening in the superficial tissues above the affected site and swelling and reddening in these tissues subsequently arise. Sequestration—formation of portions of the cortical layer of bone that are necrotic from lack of nutrition—is characteristic of osteomyelitis. Small sequestra are sometimes eliminated spontaneously through fistulas that form when purulent discharges break through the skin. Sequestration is a criterion for determining the severity of osteomyelitis and the extent of disability after recovery. In rare cases recovery occurs spontaneously, but the disease may subsequently recur.

Osteomyelitis is treated with anti-inflammatory agents and general and local antibiotics; immobilization and rest of the affected segment of the skeleton are essential. Early incision of the inflammatory focus by periosteotomy—dissection of the periosteum—is indicated. Paracentesis—surgical puncturing in order to aspirate fluid—is performed if inflammatory effusions have spread into the adjacent joints. Sequestra are removed in chronic osteomyelitis. Residual defects and deformities of the bones require conservative and operative treatment, a prerequisite of which is complete suppression of the inflammatory process.


Chaklin, V. D. Infektsionnye zabolevaniia kostei, sustavov i khriashchei. Sverdlovsk, 1937.
Fridland, M. O. Ortopediia, 5th ed. Moscow, 1954.
Vengerovskii, I. S. Osteomielit u detei. Moscow, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Inflammation of bone tissue and bone marrow.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Disler, "Disseminated Bartonella henselae (cat-scratch disease): appearance of multifocal osteomyelitis with MR imaging," American Journal of Roentgenology, vol.
The pathology of the debrided bony tissue turned out to be acute and chronic osteomyelitis. Afterwards, patient clinically improved and was resumed on intravenous vancomycin and Tazocin.
HPE showed Nonspecific osteomyelitis with chronic inflammation, Culture report showed pure growth of Staphylococcus aureus and sensitive antibiotic was started.
Osteomyelitis is an inflammatory process of bone with resultant destructive and necrotic change accompanied by new bone formation, which can progress to a chronic or persistent stage (1).
Bony changes, such as periosteal reactive changes and heterotypic new bone formation usually associated with osteomyelitis, can also be present in no infected pressure ulcers.
Mandibular pyogranulomatous osteomyelitis in a Sannen goat.
Chronic multifocal osteomyelitis. J Bone Joint Surg Br.
The patient was underwent surgery with a prediagnosis of acute osteomyelitis. A frozen biopsy was performed; atypical cells were not observed and granulomatous inflammation was found.
Fortunately for this patient, once diagnosed, this patient's osteomyelitis was treated successfully, leading to a favorable outcome.
Skull base osteomyelitis and potential cerebrovascular complications in children.
All participants had bone biopsy-confirmed osteomyelitis with no ischemia, and none underwent any bone resection during the treatment period.
In the worst cases, osteomyelitis can result in amputations or be fatal.