Tuberculous osteomyelitis which does not involve a joint is uncommon and may fail to be diagnosed by an orthopaedic surgeon. We treated 28 lesions of tuberculous osteomyelitis in 25 patients between 1988 and 1995. The duration of symptoms was from two to 39 months, and most of our patients had been treated initially with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which failed to provide relief. Bone pain which does not promptly respond to analgesic medication is often due to infection or neoplasia.
In the early stages, when plain radiographs are normal, MRI or CT may help to localise lesions. On plain radiographs, more advanced lesions may mimic chronic pyogenic osteomyelitis, Brodie’s abscess, tumours or granulomatous lesions. Biopsy is mandatory to confirm the diagnosis, and antituberculous drugs are the mainstay of treatment. When operative findings at biopsy have the features of skeletal tuberculosis curettage of the affected bone may promote earlier healing.
- Received January 21, 1997.
- Accepted April 11, 1997.
- © 1997 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery