Is there a simple, definitive, and cost-effective way to diagnose osteomyelitis in the pressure ulcer patient?
BACKGROUND: Despite advances in managing pressure ulcers, there is still no definitive way to diagnose bone infection (osteomyelitis) short of open biopsy. An effective, less invasive diagnostic method might result in cost savings and improved care; however, needle aspiration, computed tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, and bone scans have proven unsatisfactory in predicting osteomyelitis. The authors reviewed preoperative radiologic studies of stage IV pressure ulcer patients and their bone biopsy results to determine which radiologic studies are most diagnostic for osteomyelitis.
METHODS: Patients (n = 44) having surgical débridement of stage IV ulcers with open bone biopsy after prior radiographic imaging (plain films, ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and/or nuclear bone scans) were included. Studies were interpreted by a single musculoskeletal radiologist blinded to information from the medical record and following standard radiologic criteria for the diagnosis of osteomyelitis.
RESULTS: The percentage of patients with biopsy-proven osteomyelitis identified with imaging was 50 percent using a computed tomography scan and 88 percent using a plain film of the bony area of involvement. The overall sensitivity of either radiologic study was 61 percent. The percentage of patients without osteomyelitis identified as not having the condition by imaging was 85 percent for the computed tomography scan and 32 percent for the plain film. Overall specificity of both studies was 69 percent.
CONCLUSION: Preoperative radiologic studies for osteomyelitis in a pressure ulcer are far from definitive; however, if a radiologic study is used to make that diagnosis in a stage IV pressure ulcer, it would appear that a plain film would suffice.
Published In/Presented At
Larson, D. L., Gilstrap, J., Simonelic, K., & Carrera, G. F. (2011). Is there a simple, definitive, and cost-effective way to diagnose osteomyelitis in the pressure ulcer patient?. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 127(2), 670–676. https://doi.org/10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181fed66e
Medicine and Health Sciences
Department of Surgery