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Osteomyelitis is an infection of bone marrow spaces. “Osteo” means bone, “myelo” means marrow, and “itis” means infection. Vertebral osteomyelitis is an infection in the vertebrae. Bacteria or fungus causes this infection. The condition is rare in healthy people, though children and adults with compromised immune systems are susceptible.

Transmission and Symptoms of Osteomyelitis

Bone marrow spaces may become infected through:

  • Blood stream – IV drug users are highly susceptible to infection, as are people who require frequent blood transfusions.
  • Penetrating injury – Highly invasive operations or traumatic bone fractures can directly transfer infection directly into the bone marrow spaces.
  • Local areas of infection – Infection of nearby tissues can spread to the bone.

Early symptoms of vertebral osteomyelitis include bone pain, fever, tenderness of the tissue overlying the infected bone, and weight loss. Inflamed bone marrow can cause bone circulation to decrease, and in rare cases epidural abscesses spread into the spinal canal and cause neural compression.

Treatment of Osteomyelitis

A course of antibiotics will be prescribed by your physician, the length of which will be determined by the severity of the infection. Treatment will most likely begin with intravenous medicine and then transition to oral administration. In extreme cases, surgery is necessary to remove dead bone or drain abscesses.

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