Osteomyelitis (“osteo” meaning bone and “myelitis” meaning inflammation of the fatty tissues) is a rare but serious infection in the bone. Osteomyelitis can affect people of all ages and can occur in any bone.
While osteomyelitis was once thought to be incurable, acute cases can usually be treated and resolved successfully. Severe or chronic cases of osteomyelitis could have more serious and lasting consequences and could require surgery to remove the infected bone and tissue or amputation.
The sooner you treat osteomyelitis, the better, so you should visit your doctor as soon as you notice the signs of infection. Medical professionals should diagnose and treat the condition immediately to prevent the condition from becoming a chronic issue that could require painful and expensive ongoing treatment.
What Causes Osteomyelitis?
Osteomyelitis is most often caused by a type of staph bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus.
Infections may begin in one area of the body and spread to the bone through the bloodstream, or an open fracture, or after surgery. While osteomyelitis in the long arm and leg bones are most commonly reported in children, adults are more susceptible to osteomyelitis in the feet, vertebrae, or hips.
Factors that could make a person’s bones more vulnerable to osteomyelitis include recent injuries or surgery, circulation disorders, conditions impairing the immune system, conditions requiring intravenous lines or catheters, and the injection of illicit drugs.
What are the Symptoms of Osteomyelitis?
One of the most common symptoms of osteomyelitis is severe pain in the infected area. Additional symptoms could include fatigue, fever, and swelling or redness.
Usually, after several days of fever, fever and localized pain will increase. Specific bones, such as osteomyelitis in the hip, pelvis, or vertebrae may be painful, but may not have other noticeable symptoms.
Individuals with spinal infections often report chronic back pain that does not respond to conventional treatment.
Anaerobic osteomyelitis affecting the lower jawbone (mandible), skull, or feet is characterized by swelling and redness of the affected area.
How Is Osteomyelitis Diagnosed?
Doctors will diagnose osteomyelitis by looking at a patient’s medical history and performing a thorough physical examination. They will look for signs or symptoms of soft tissue and bone tenderness and possibly swelling and redness while asking about symptoms and evaluating personal and family medical history.
Your physician will typically perform a number of possible tests to confirm an osteomyelitis diagnosis. Radiographs, or X-rays, are frequently used because they can show abnormalities in the bone, but magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can also be used because it will show if there is fluid in the bone.
Additional tests could include blood tests to confirm infections, blood culture tests to detect bacteria in the bloodstream, and needle aspiration to remove samples of fluid and cells from vertebral spaces or bones. Doctors could also use a biopsy of an infected bone or a bone scan in which Technetium-99 pyrophosphate is injected intravenously into the body.
What if a Doctor Fails To Diagnose Osteomyelitis?
When osteomyelitis is not correctly diagnosed, a patient could be susceptible to a wide range of possible consequences. Acute cases of osteomyelitis could become chronic and people will not have the same treatment options available to them.
Osteomyelitis can lead to other issues, including possible tissue death that will require surgery to remove areas where the bone has died. Additional complications may include septic arthritis in which infections in bones spread to other joints, impaired bone growth for children affected by osteomyelitis, and others, depending on the specific circumstances.
You should always make sure to see a doctor whenever you are experiencing the symptoms of osteomyelitis. Your treatment options will always be best when you seek medical care sooner rather than later.
Healthcare professionals should diagnose and treat osteomyelitis quickly. Failure to diagnose and treat the condition could have serious and permanent consequences for the patient, including, amputation, deformity, and neurological dysfunction. If they fail to treat osteomyelitis to an acceptable standard, the doctor and/or facility could be held accountable through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Contact a New York Osteomyelitis Lawyer Today
If you or your loved one has suffered serious consequences as a result of a missed or delayed diagnosis of osteomyelitis, you have the right to seek answers and demand justice from the doctor or facility that failed to care for you properly.
Finz & Finz, P.C., has won more than $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients, including many successful outcomes for victims of medical malpractice. We have been serving clients since 1984, and we’re ready to put our experience to work for you when you call 1-855-TOP-FIRM, chat with us live, or fill out a contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.