Simplifying the treatment of acute bacterial bone and joint infections in children

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The treatment of acute hematogenous bone and joint infections of children – osteomyelitis (OM), septic arthritis (SA) and OM–SA combination (OM+SA) – has simplified over the past years. The old approach included months-long antibiotic treatment, started intravenously for at least a week, followed by oral completion of the course. Recent prospective randomized trials show that most cases heal with a total course of 3 weeks (OM, OM+SA) or 2 weeks (SA) of an appropriate antibiotic, provided the clinical response is good and C-reactive protein level has normalized. If the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Kingella kingae is low, clindamycin and a first-generation cephalosporin are safe, inexpensive and effective alternatives. They should be administered in large doses and four times a day. Clindamycin, vancomycin and expensive linezolid are options against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Extensive surgery beyond a diagnostic sample by aspiration is rarely needed in uncomplicated cases.

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