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Systemic antibiotic therapy for chronic osteomyelitis in adults.

The standard recommendation for treating chronic osteomyelitis is 6 weeks of parenteral antibiotic therapy. However, oral antibiotics are available that achieve adequate levels in bone, and there are now more published studies of oral than parenteral antibiotic therapy for patients with chronic osteomyelitis. Oral and parenteral therapies achieve similar cure rates; however, oral therapy avoids risks associated with intravenous catheters and is generally less expensive, making it a reasonable choice for osteomyelitis caused by susceptible organisms. Addition of adjunctive rifampin to other antibiotics may improve cure rates. The optimal duration of therapy for chronic osteomyelitis remains uncertain. There is no evidence that antibiotic therapy for >4-6 weeks improves outcomes compared with shorter regimens. In view of concerns about encouraging antibiotic resistance to unnecessarily prolonged treatment, defining the optimal route and duration of antibiotic therapy and the role of surgical debridement in treating chronic osteomyelitis are important, unmet needs.

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