Osteomyelitis is inflammation and destruction of bone caused by bacteria, mycobacteria, or fungi. Common symptoms are localized bone pain and tenderness with constitutional symptoms (in acute osteomyelitis) or without constitutional symptoms (in chronic osteomyelitis). Diagnosis is by imaging studies and cultures. Treatment is with antibiotics and sometimes surgery. Forty-seven children under the age of 15 with bacteriologically proven AHOM were collected prospectively in Finland in 1981-93. Staphylococcus aureus was responsible for 89% of the cases.
Most of the children came with a history of a week or less with classic signs and symptoms of AHOM, increased C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) values but negative X-rays. Delay in hospital admission was observed in 19%. In 11% antimicrobial therapy was not instituted within 48 hours on ward. All children were clinically healthy at the 1-year check-up with minor X-ray changes seen in 11 patients.
We conclude that children in Finland seek treatment early in the course of AHOM and have a good outcome. S. aureus is the main aetiological agent affecting primarily the long bones, but in older children pelvic and calcaneic sites are also frequent. No significant delays affecting the outcome were noticed in admittance to hospital or in the diagnosis of AHOM.