HISTOLOGICALLY PROVEN PRESSURE SORE-RELATED OSTEOMYELITIS IN THE SETTING OF NEGATIVE TECHNETIUM BONE SCANS: Case Report

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Abstract

Burdge DR, Gribble MJ: Histologically proven pressure sore-related osteomyelitis in the setting of negative technetium bone scans. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 1993;72:386–389Pressure sores are common in patients with spinal cord injury, stroke or debilitating medical illness. Contiguous osteomyelitis is a well recognized complication of pressure ulcers, but remains a challenging diagnostic and management problem. Technetium bone scan is purported to be an extremely sensitive, although nonspecific diagnostic test for osteomyelitis. Indeed, a negative bone scan is thought to virtually exclude bone infection. We report three cases of pressure sore-related polymicrobial osteomyelitis where technetium bone scan was normal, yet bone biopsy demonstrated characteristic histopathologic changes of osteomyelitis. These cases raise questions regarding the sensitivity of bone scanning in the setting of pressure sores, and they demonstrate the need for further investigation into the correlation between nuclear medicine scan results and bone biopsy histopathology. Bone biopsy remains the gold standard for diagnosis of osteomyelitis, which can be present in bone underlying a pressure ulcer, even in the setting of a normal bone scan.

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