Microbiology and radiographic features of osteomyelitis in children and adolescents with sickle cell disease

Carol M. Kao, Marianne E. Yee, Alexander Maillis, Kristina Lai, Nitya Bakshi, Bradley S. Rostad, Robert C. Jerris, Peter A. Lane, Inci Yildirim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Children with sickle cell disease (SCD) are at increased risk for bacterial infections including osteomyelitis (OM). Fever and bone pain, key presenting symptoms of OM, are common in SCD, thus complicating diagnosis. We reviewed presentation, imaging features, and microbiologic etiologies of children with SCD treated for OM. Methods: The comprehensive SCD clinical database of children and adolescents with SCD followed at a single, large tertiary pediatric center were searched to identify all diagnostic coding for potential cases of osteomyelitis in children ages 6 months to 21 years from 2010 to 2019. Medical charts were reviewed to determine OM diagnostic probability based on radiographic and microbiologic findings and the duration of prescribed antibiotic treatment for OM. Results: Review of 3553 patients (18 039 person-years) identified 20 episodes of probable OM in 19 children. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings to support OM were definitive in 4/19 (21%), probable in 10/19 (53%), suspected in 5/19 (26%), based on blinded radiologist review. Blood and/or operative cultures from bone and tissue debridement isolated Salmonella species in seven (35%) cases and methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) in two (10%). Six patients received antibiotic treatment prior to obtainment of cultures. Of culture-positive cases, MRI findings for OM were definitive or probable in six of nine (67%), suspected in three of nine (33%). Conclusions: Distinction between OM and sickle-related bone infarct or vasoocclusion is difficult based on imaging findings alone. Early attainment of blood and operative cultures increases the likelihood of identifying and adequately treating OM.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28517
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Salmonella
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • osteomyelitis
  • sickle cell disease


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