Can people live with bone infection? Does it need to be treated?
People can live with bone infection for years as long as the bacteria do not enter the bloodstream and cause the rest of the body to become sick. Signs of systemic infection include fever, chills, rapid heartbeat, and low blood pressure. Systemic spread of bone infection occurs infrequently; it can, however, occur more commonly in a person who becomes weakened from other medical illnesses.
Other parts of the body
Bacteria that enter the bloodstream can travel to other parts of the body, such as the heart and the joints. The affected heart can become weakened because of damaged valves. The affected joints can become swollen and painful. The bacteria and the white blood cells that fight the bacteria can eat away at joint cartilage if not immediately treated by surgical washing. If the bacteria continue to live in the joints, it is likely that severe permanent arthritis will occur as residual damage.
Infrequently, when bone infection has been present and draining through a sinus tract for years, the skin cells can become cancerous. Such skin cancer is called Marjolin ulcer. A bone infection specialist should send surgical samples to the pathology laboratory for evaluation of the potentially cancerous site.
Is bone infection difficult to treat?
Bone infection can be difficult to treat because bacteria are constantly changing to fight the new antibiotics that are used to kill them. Some bacteria have been extremely difficult to kill, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus species and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. These bacteria and their constantly changing genetic makeup make it very difficult to find new antibiotics that will completely eradicate the entire bacterial population.
Can bone infection recur?
Even years after successful bone infection surgery, a small area of bone
infection can recur, especially if the immune system becomes compromised through