Background: Chronic osteomyelitis (CO) is rarely encountered in developed countries and is especially rare in children and adolescents. However, on occurrence, it can pose a difficult therapeutic challenge necessitating a combination of aggressive surgical treatment and prolonged antibiotic administration.
Methods: Four patients were treated for CO in the Pediatric Orthopaedic Unit at Schneider Children's Medical Center between June 2005 and December 2006 and were reviewed retrospectively. Surgical treatment consisted of debridement and lavage, reaming of the intramedullary canal and insertion of gentamycin-impregnated polymetamethacrylate rods into the canal and beads around the infection site. At rod removal reaming and lavage were repeated. Antibiotic treatment was initiated with intravenous cephalothin, followed by prolonged oral treatment according to bacterial sensitivity.
Results: Cement rods and beads were removed 16 to 62 days after insertion. Intravenous antibiotics were continued for 6 weeks (3-13) and total antibiotic treatment length was 16 weeks (10-37). Total treatment time from presentation to full resolution averaged 8 months (2-18). One patient sustained a fracture requiring osteotomy and correction. At mean follow-up of 41 months from rod removal (36-46), all patients are asymptomatic and fully functional with no clinical signs of infection. C-reactive protein is within normal limits in all 4 patients.
Conclusions: The method presented combining reaming, lavage and local and systemic antibiotic treatment was found to be safe and effective in the treatment of CO, eradicating the infection and preventing further tissue loss.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, clinical case series: level IV.