Osteomyelitis: Diagnosis

how to diagnose vertebral osteomyelitis

The most typical signs of osteomyelitis are bone pain and a high temperature.

Symptoms of acute osteomyelitis

A lot of cases of acute osteomyelitis include one of the long bones in the legs. However, sometimes the bones in the arm or in the back (the vertebrae) can be impacted.

The symptoms of acute osteomyelitis consist of:

  • an unexpected high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4 F) or above– although children under one year old
  • typically do not have this symptom
  • bone pain, which can typically be severe
  • swelling, soreness and heat at the site of the infection
  • a basic sense of sensation unwell
  • the affected body part is tender to touch
  • the range of motion in the impacted body part is restricted
  • lymph nodes (glands) near the impacted body part may be swollen

In teens and adults, these symptoms tend to establish within a few weeks of an injury or mishap, such as a damaged bone.

Young children who can not talk may be not able to report their painful symptoms to you. You should keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • irritation
  • consuming much less than usual
  • reluctance to use the affected body part

Symptoms of chronic osteomyelitis

In cases of chronic osteomyelitis, you are most likely to experience similar symptoms to a previous infection.

As soon as chronic osteomyelitis is developed, the individual impacted might have periods of practically no symptoms. However, symptoms can flare at any time. For instance, you might experience:

  • bone pain
  • feeling persistently tired
  • pus draining from the sinus tract (a passageway that establishes near the infected bone).
  • local swelling.
  • skin modifications.
  • extreme sweating.
  • chills.

When to seek medical recommendations

You need to always visit your GP if you or your child establishes a high temperature level (fever) and persistent bone pain, or if you are stressed over symptoms in a really child.

How to Diagnose Osteomyelitis?

Osteomyelitis is diagnosed based on a health examination and tests consisting of blood tests, imaging tests and a biopsy.

Visit your GP if you are experiencing symptoms of osteomyelitis, such as a high temperature and bone pain.

Physical exam

Your GP will first carry out a health examination of the impacted body part to look for soreness, swelling and tenderness. They will would like to know whether you have recently had an injury, surgery or a previous infection.

If osteomyelitis is suspected, they might refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon (a specialist in bones and joints).

Blood test

You may be referred for a blood test. This can not validate osteomyelitis, however can show whether you have a high variety of leukocyte in your blood, which suggests an infection.

Also, if the osteomyelitis was brought on by bacteria spreading in your blood, a blood test may be useful for detecting the bacteria.

Imaging tests

There are several imaging tests utilized to find bone damage caused by osteomyelitis. They consist of:.

  • X-rays, where low levels of radiation are used to produce a picture of the influenced bone– this test is not typically helpful for medical diagnosis if the condition is in the early phases.
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, where a strong magnetic field and radio waves are utilized to develop a photo of the inside of the influenced bone.
  • computerised tomography (CT) scan, where a series of X-rays of your affected bone are taken and a computer is used to assemble them into a more in-depth three-dimensional image.
  • ultrasound scan, where high-frequency acoustic wave are utilized to develop an image of the influenced bone to highlight any abnormalities.


If tests suggest osteomyelitis, it is generally necessary to get rid of a little sample of bone for more testing. This is referred to as a biopsy. A biopsy is typically essential to confirm osteomyelitis and can assist develop the type of bacteria or fungus causing your infection. This is useful when picking the most efficient treatment.

A biopsy is normally combined with surgery in chronic cases. If you have a wound producing pus, a sample might also be considered testing.



Updated: August 10, 2016 — 8:35 am

The Author

Reyus Mammadli

Healthy lifestyle advisor. Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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