Nigerian Journal of Surgery

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Childhood pyogenic osteomyelitis in Abakaliki, south east Nigeria

Njoku Isaac Omoke


Background: Pyogenic osteomyelitis is an important child health problem in developing countries. It is a one‑disease state with a spectrum of pathological features and clinical forms ranging from acute to chronic presentation. Its pattern of presentation varies from and within subregions. The aim of this study was to determine the pattern and outcome of childhood pyogenic osteomyelitis in a low‑resource environment.

Materials and Methods: This was a retrospective study of all the children aged 18 years and under seen with pyogenic osteomyelitis in Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki between January 2005 and December 2015.

Results: In 76 patients, there was pyogenic osteomyelitis involving 85 bones. Female‑to‑male ratio was 1:1.7, and the mean age was 9.9 ± 5.1 years. The clinical forms of presentation were acute in 16 (21.1%), subacute in 10 (13.2%), and chronic in 50 (65.8%) patients. Acute osteomyelitis was the more likely form of presentation among infants (P < 0.001) and urban children (P < 0.011) whereas subacute and chronic osteomyelitis were more likely among the older children (P < 0.001) and rural residents (P < 0.011). Staphylococcus aureus was the most common isolated pathogen. Anemia, septic arthritis, and pathological fractures were the three top complications observed. Fifty patients (65.8%) recovered and adjudged cured, 9 (11.8%) were lost to follow‑up, and 17 (22.4%) were unable to afford the financial cost of the treatment.

Conclusion: In our environment, chronic pyogenic osteomyelitis sequel to acute hematogenous bone infection in childhood is common. Poverty is also a limiting factor in its definitive treatment. These calls for a policy response aimed at improved care and preventive strategies based on the observed pattern.

Keywords: Bone infection, childhood pediatric, Nigeria, osteomyelitis, pyogenic
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