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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Limb Reconstruction

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Bone infection (osteomyelitis)

Osteomyelitis is the medical term for infected bone.

Infected bone can occur in any bone in the body, but is more commonly associated with an area of bone near a site of previous injury or surgery. It can also occur spontaneously without known injury or disease.

Osteomyelitis is treated in the same manner as other body infections - by using antibiotics. However, the treatment of bone infection may also involve surgery.

Antibiotics are delivered to infected areas of the body by the blood circulation, but infection of bone may render the bone weak or even cause the infected area of bone to die.

Dead bone has an impaired or absent blood supply, so it can be difficult to treat bone infection with antibiotics alone if the blood supply does not penetrate the diseased area.

This may mean that to treat your bone infection, we may need to remove dead or infected bone and improve the circulation to the diseased area.