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J Pediatr Orthop. 1996 Mar-Apr;16(2):220-3.

Subacute hematogenous osteomyelitis: are biopsy and surgery always indicated?

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Department of Orthopaedics, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Canada.


Forty-four consecutive cases of subacute osteomyelitis admitted at our institution over a 12-year period were retrospectively reviewed to assess the effectiveness of conservative versus surgical treatment of this condition and to determine the indications for open biopsy and surgical debridement. Twenty-four cases were treated with antibiotics only, and 20 had surgical debridement followed by antibiotics. Except for one case that received inadequate antibiotic therapy, all patients responded well to this treatment, whether conservative or surgical. At an average follow-up of 18 months, there were no recurrences. Our results also showed that with a careful radiologic assessment of these cases, most lesions showed characteristic benign radiologic features. We can therefore conclude that conservative management of cases of subacute osteomyelitis is as effective as surgical treatment. We believe that conservative treatment with antibiotics should be the first line of management in most of these cases and that open biopsy or surgical debridement or both should be reserved for cases that do not respond to antibiotics or show aggressive radiologic features.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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