Risk of Amputation in Osteomyelitis Linked to Burden of Comorbidities

According to a story from MDedge, a review of patient data found that patients with osteomyelitis were more likely to need amputation within a two year period if they had a greater comorbidity burden. A comorbidity is a disease or medical condition that appears alongside another disease. Therefore, the review of 1,186 patients found that amputation was more likely in patients who had more serious diseases or conditions appearing alongside their osteomyelitis.

About Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is a condition in which bone becomes infected. In most cases, a bacterial infection is usually implicated, but it is possible for fungi to infect bone as well. It often spreads from surrounding infected tissue or blood. Osteomyelitis is uncommon but can appear in people of all ages; risk factors for the condition include the use of intravenous drugs, prior removal of the spleen, diabetes, or earlier trauma to the bone or the surrounding area. Symptoms of osteomyelitis include bone pain, redness, weakness, and fever. The onset of symptoms can appear very suddenly or slowly over time. In children, the bones of the arms and legs are most commonly infected, whereas vertebrae or pelvic bones are more common in adults. Treatment of the condition typically consists of antimicrobial drugs and surgical removal of infected material, which may result in amputation in severe cases. To learn more about osteomyelitis, click here.

Review Findings

The review found that patients who had no comorbidities only had to undergo amputation 7.2 percent of the time in the two year period. However, for patients with heart failure, this percentage jumped to 21.4 percent. For those with diabetes, the figure was 36.1 percent, and patients with peripheral vascular disease, 36.7 percent underwent amputation.

Patients with combinations of these comorbidities were even more likely to need amputations. 75 percent of patients with heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, and diabetes would have amputations within two years. In the past, the presence of diabetes was known to increase the risk of amputation, but this review has revealed that other conditions need to be accounted for as well. 

The researchers ultimately hope to use this data in order to more effectively weigh the risks and benefits of amputation for each patient; after all, if a patient is likely to need an amputation down the road, they may see greater benefit from having the procedure conducted earlier rather than later.

Check out the original study here.


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