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Clin Infect Dis. 2006 Jan 1;42(1):57-62. Epub 2005 Nov 21.

Culture of percutaneous bone biopsy specimens for diagnosis of diabetic foot osteomyelitis: concordance with ulcer swab cultures.

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Diabetic Foot Clinic, Dron Hospital, Tourcoing, France.



We assessed the diagnostic value of swab cultures by comparing them with corresponding cultures of percutaneous bone biopsy specimens for patients with diabetic foot osteomyelitis.


The medical charts of patients with foot osteomyelitis who underwent a surgical percutaneous bone biopsy between January 1996 and June 2004 in a single diabetic foot clinic were reviewed. Seventy-six patients with 81 episodes of foot osteomyelitis who had positive results of culture of bone biopsy specimens and who had received no antibiotic therapy for at least 4 weeks before biopsy constituted the study population.


Pathogens isolated from bone samples were predominantly staphylococci (52%) and gram-negative bacilli (18.4%). The distributions of microorganisms in bone and swab cultures were similar, except for coagulase-negative staphylococci, which were more prevalent in bone samples (P < .001). The results for cultures of concomitant foot ulcer swabs were available for 69 of 76 patients. The results of bone and swab cultures were identical for 12 (17.4%) of 69 patients, and bone bacteria were isolated from the corresponding swab culture in 21 (30.4%) of 69 patients. The concordance between the results of cultures of swab and of bone biopsy specimens was 42.8% for Staphylococcus aureus, 28.5% for gram-negative bacilli, and 25.8% for streptococci. The overall concordance for all isolates was 22.5%. No adverse events--such as worsening peripheral vascular disease, fracture, or biopsy-induced bone infection--were observed, but 1 patient experienced an episode of acute Charcot osteoarthropathy 4 weeks after bone biopsy was performed.


These results suggest that superficial swab cultures do not reliably identify bone bacteria. Percutaneous bone biopsy seems to be safe for patients with diabetic foot osteomyelitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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