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Chronic osteomyelitis: what the surgeon needs to know.

Chronic osteomyelitis represents a progressive inflammatory process caused by pathogens, resulting in bone destruction and sequestrum formation.It may present with periods of quiescence of variable duration, whereas its occurrence, type, severity and prognosis is multifactorial.The 'gold standard' for the diagnosis of chronic osteomyelitis is the presence of positive bone cultures and histopathologic examination of the bone.Its management remains challenging to the treating physician, with a multidisciplinary approach involving radiologists, microbiologists with expertise in infectious diseases, orthopaedic surgeons and plastic surgeons.Treatment should be tailored to each patient according the severity and duration of symptoms, as well as to the clinical and radiological response to treatment.A combined antimicrobial and surgical treatment should be considered in all cases, including appropriate dead space management and subsequent reconstruction. Relapse can occur, even following an apparently successful treatment, which has a major impact on the quality of life of patients and is a substantial financial burden to any healthcare system. Cite this article EFORT Open Rev 2016;1:128-135. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.1.000017.

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