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Infections

Soft Tissue Infections

Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin that presents itself as redness, swelling and tenderness on the skin. It usually occurs on the legs, although anywhere on the face or body can be affected. If left untreated, cellulitis can spread throughout the bloodstream and cause life-threatening complications.

Cellulitis is typically caused by bacteria that enter through breaks in the skin. Streptococcus and staphylococcus are the two most common bacteria associated with cellulitis. Certain insect bites can also transmit cellulitis-causing bacteria into the skin.

Symptoms of cellulitis may include fever, pain, swelling, tenderness, and redness. In some cases, blisters may form on top of the affected skin. It is important to seek prompt medical attention for all rashes to receive effective treatment and avoid complications.

To diagnose cellulitis, your doctor may simply examine your skin. Blood tests may also be done to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as blood clots in the leg veins. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat cellulitis, with a follow-up visit to your doctor after a few days to monitor healing. Severe cases that do not respond to antibiotics may require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. It is important to take the entire course of antibiotics, even if symptoms have already subsided.

Abcess

An abscess is an infection of the soft tissue that results in a pooling of pus.  They are typically caused by bacteria, parasites or foreign substances.  When near the surface of the skin, abscesses are obvious to the eye, appearing red and swollen.  Abscesses are often painful.

Treatment for an abscess usually requires antibiotics and/or draining the contained fluid through needle aspiration in order to relieve symptoms and rid the body of the infection. The drainage procedure may be performed under ultrasound or CT guidance to ensure precise and effective treatment of the abscess. During the procedure, a small needle is inserted directly into the abscess to aspirate and drain any fluid. Only a local anesthetic is needed to minimize any potential discomfort from the needle. The removed fluid may be analyzed to detect any bacterial infection or determine the cause of the pus buildup.

Bone Infections (Osteomyelitis)

Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that most commonly affects the long bones, such as in the leg, upper arm, spine or pelvis. This condition can be acute or chronic; children are prone to acute cases while adults are more often affected by a chronic form. Osteomyelitis is caused by an infection that develops in the bone or spreads to the bone from another area, and may result in the formation of an abscess in the bone that blocks blood supply.

Most patients have bones that are resistant to infection, making osteomyelitis more common in patients with weakened bones or immune systems. This includes patients who have poor circulation or have recently been injured or undergone orthopedic surgery.

Patients with osteomyelitis may experience:

  • Fever
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

The symptoms can vary depending on the type of infection and the age of the patient. If these symptoms are present, your doctor may perform a series of tests to diagnose the condition, including blood tests, X-rays, bone biopsy and other imaging procedures.

Chronic cases of osteomyelitis often require surgery and antibiotics to thoroughly treat and eliminate the infection. Surgery may include draining pus or fluid from the infected area, removing diseased bone and tissue or restoring blood flow to the bone. A bone or tissue graft may be needed after these procedures are performed. Acute cases of osteomyelitis can often be treated with antibiotics alone.

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