Published literature on musculoskeletal coccidioidomycosis is sparse and limited to case reports and case series. This is one of the largest case series to describe the clinical presentation, diagnosis, medical and surgical management and outcomes of pediatric musculoskeletal coccidioidomycosis at a tertiary care hospital.
A retrospective case review was performed on patients ≤ 21 years old who were followed at a tertiary care center with a diagnosis of musculoskeletal coccidioidomycosis from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2020. Descriptive data are expressed as medians and interquartile range (IQR) for continuous variables or as frequency and percentage for categorical variables. Categorical values were compared using the χ2 test.
Forty-one patients were identified. The median age was 12.8 years, and most were male (71%), Latinx (66%) and healthy (71%). Limb swelling (66%), bone pain (54%) and joint pain (46%) were the most common presenting symptoms. Multiple bone involvement was present in 29% while 12% had the joint disease, and craniofacial (n = 10) and metacarpal/metatarsal bones (n=9) were the most commonly involved sites. Elevated Coccidioides complement fixation (CF) titers ≥1:32 were seen in 90% of the patients. Thirty-three patients (81%) required surgical interventions and of these 16 (48%) required additional surgical procedures. Eleven patients (27%) had disease relapse. Children >13 years of age were more likely to have > 1 organ involvement (16 vs. 7, P = 0.04), multiple bone involvement (10 vs. 2, P = 0.004) and maximum Coccidioides CF titers >1:128 (13 vs. 6, P = 0.02).
In endemic areas, musculoskeletal coccidioidomycosis causes a substantial disease burden in children and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of those presenting with bone and joint pain or swelling. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to minimize long-term morbidity and mortality.