Infection of bone (also known as osteomyelitis) is a serious condition that requires expert care. Bone tissue is generally well protected from bacteria by the skin, tendons, muscle, and other soft tissue that covers the deeper bone. Most superficial skin and wound infections rarely seed bacteria into the deeper bone tissue. Unfortunately when wounds in the skin go deep and expose bone to the open air, or if deep abcesses of pus develop from complicated skin infections, bacteria can find its way through the hard bone surface. This can also occur when the skin is penetrated by a long foreign object like a needle, splinter, or glass shard, and bacteria on the object is forced into the deep recesses of the body around bone. Although rare in adults, infections from elsewhere in the body can seed through the bloodstream into distant bones in children, causing bone infection. Those with immune-system suppressing conditions, like diabetics, transplant patients, and HIV, are more likely to develop bone infections than those with better immune systems.
The result of bacteria reaching bone is a serious infection that causes the bone to essentially dissolve away. The infection can also easily spread into the bloodstream, causing blood poisoning and potential death through a process called sepsis. A bone infection is very difficult to treat, as most orally taken antibiotics have a poor ability to penetrate with enough concentration into the bone to kill the bacteria. The treatment of bone infection in the foot can involve the use of intravenous antibiotics for two months or more. In many instances, bone infection in the foot is surgically removed to the point where only healthy bone remains. Bone infection in the toes often requires partial or full toe amputation depending on the severity, as antibiotics have a poor ability to get into toe tissue given the limited blood supply of the toes. The use of antibiotic impregnated implantable beads is often used when the bone that is removed is in the deep recesses of the foot, to help destroy any lingering bacteria in the surrounding tissue. Bone infection can sometimes cause gangrene in serious cases, and a lower leg amputation may be required if the life of the patient is in jeopardy. For this reason, bone infections require expert care by those experienced with treating this condition, and an infectious disease specialist is often part of the treatment team. The physicians an Indiana Podiatry Group are highly experienced at treating this devastating disease, and have saved many legs by their timely treatment.