Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Don't let your leg get this bad

This week, I had a 6 yo boy and his father came to see me.  The kid complained of swelling and pain of his leg, for a number of months.  When he raised his pant leg, this is what I found.  Bone was sticking out of his leg as a result of osteomyelitis.

I see osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) almost everyday here, but this was one of the worst I have seen in a while.  Kids fall down, bump their arm or leg, scrape their arm on a rock or a tree branch and bacteria go inside the skin, infrequent washing allows the bacteria to grow and cause an infection in the skin, then the muscle and if not treated the bone.  This didn't happen overnight, but over several months.  As you might guess, the bone coming out (sequestrum) is no longer helping him walk, his body has already made new bone (involucrum) around the bad bone to support him.

He needs surgery to take out this bone and all the other bone of his leg that is infected and no longer functional.  Then he needs to be on antibiotics for months to heal the infection in his bone.  He should do fine, but it will take awhile.  Unfortunately, many families quit coming back for followup due to expense or thinking the infection is healed after surgery and then it only continues.  Hopefully, they will continue to get the treatment they need.