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HBO & Chronic Osteomyelitis

Chronic Osteomyelitis (persistent bone infection)

Infection of the bone, osteomyelitis, may occur after injury, surgery or if infection has spread from another part of the body. Osteomyelitis can be caused by bacterial or fungal infection. People with problems such as diabetes or after an organ transplant are at higher risk of developing infection.

Different bones around the body may be affected, including the vertebra, bones in the legs and the base of the skull. Complications of osteomyelitis can include pain, deformity and bone death. Chronic osteomyelitis, infection that is persisting over the longer term, can also make a person feel generally unwell.

Malignant otitis externa / base of skull infection

This occurs most often in older people with diabetes and may start as an infection of the ear canal. The infection can spread through the skin, into the bone of the skull. The infection can spread and effect the nerves which come from the base of the brain and cause weakness of facial muscles as well as problems with speech and swallowing.

The mainstay of treatment of osteomyelitis initially is antibiotics. Sometimes surgery is needed, for instance to remove metalwork present which may be harbouring the infection. If the infection continues to persist after these measures, HBO may be helpful, in conjunction with ongoing antibiotics and review by the surgical team.

HBO is helpful for osteomyelitis for different reasons. Some bacteria cannot live in high oxygen conditions. Some drugs which fight infection are only effective if there is enough oxygen for the drug to be absorbed into the right place.


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