JOURNAL ARTICLE

Chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis in children: diagnostic value of histopathology and microbial testing

H J Girschick, H I Huppertz, D Harmsen, R Krauspe, H K Müller-Hermelink, T Papadopoulos
Human Pathology 1999, 30 (1): 59-65
9923928
Chronic recurrent, unifocal or multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO), an inflammatory disorder of unknown origin, involves different osseous sites and may be associated with palmoplantar pustulosis. Bacterial cultures of affected tissue were reported negative in nearly all cases. Radiological and magnetic resonance imaging features of CRMO have been described, but differential diagnosis remains difficult, including rheumatic diseases, bacterial osteomyelitis, and malignancy. Although definite diagnosis relies on histopathologic confirmation by biopsy, histopathologic criteria have not been defined. Because CRMO may be treated with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, but not antibiotics, distinguishing CRMO from bacterial osteomyelitis is of major importance. Histopathologic analysis of 12 patients with CRMO indicated a wide variation of reparative changes of bone, but chronic inflammation could not be found at all sites in the same biopsy. The inflammatory infiltrate was mostly scattered, consisting mainly of lymphocytes, plasma cells, histiocytes, and also few neutrophil granulocytes. Immunohistochemistry showed a predominance of CD3(+), CD45RO(+) T-cells, which were mainly CD8(+). In addition, CD20(+) B cells and CD68(+) macrophages were abundant in each biopsy specimen. Mild lymphocytic and granulocytic infiltrates were also detected in three synovial biopsy specimens obtained from adjacent joints. All bacterial and fungal cultures from native biopsy tissues were negative. Amplification of partial-length 16S ribosomal DNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using broad-range eubacterial primers was below the detection limit in all patients. Because histopathologic features alone may not provide conclusive evidence, CRMO should be included in the differential diagnosis of chronic inflammatory bone lesions in children, and the definite diagnosis should be made by the clinical picture, x-ray studies, bone scan, bacterial culture, and histopathologic analysis in a multidisciplinary approach.

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