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Bone infection - Complications of osteomyelitis

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Although osteomyelitis is usually treated successfully, chronic and severe cases can lead to other problems.

Recurring osteomyelitis

Underlying conditions that are often the cause of osteomyelitis, such as poor circulation or a weakened immune system, can be difficult to treat. Therefore, if you have had a previous episode of osteomyelitis, there is a chance of it returning.

Read more about preventing osteomyelitis.


Amputation is used as a last resort for treating chronic osteomyelitis if the blood supply to bones is severely reduced.

With a reduced blood supply, the bones receive fewer infection-fighting blood cells. This means the infection may spread beyond the bone and into the surrounding soft tissue. The tissue will then begin to die, which is known as gangrene.

Once gangrene develops, it may be necessary to amputate the affected limb to prevent the spread of infection and prevent further damage to healthy tissue.

Medical Review: October 16, 2012
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