Osteomyelitis in newborn infants

Waseem M, Devas G, Laureta E. A neonate with asymmetric arm movements. Pediatr
Emerg Care. 2009 Feb;25(2):98-9.

Abnormal arm posture or movements in a neonate may cause significant concern in a pediatric emergency department. This can be secondary to osteomyelitis, which may rarely present with asymmetric arm movements in the neonatal period. The diagnosis of osteomyelitis is difficult to establish in a neonate because systemic signs may not be present at this age. We report an infant with upper limb weakness and asymmetric movements 3 weeks after delivery.

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Dessì A, Crisafulli M, Accossu S, Setzu V, Fanos V. Osteo-articular infections in newborns: diagnosis and treatment. J Chemother. 2008 Oct;20(5):542-50.

Osteoarticular infections, although uncommon, represent a severe condition in neonates. Infections in newborns are largely of an acute nature, transmitted by hematogenous means. The most frequently observed etiological agents are: Staphylococcus aureus, Gram negative and group B Streptococcus spp. In the majority of cases the metaphyses of the long bone are the most commonly implicated sites, although infection may spread to the contiguous epiphysis and joint in neonates. Diagnosis of acute septic arthritis and osteomyelitis may be hindered, especially in neonates, due to the manifestation of less clear-cut characteristic symptoms and signs compared to in children. When osteomyelitis is suspected, imaging techniques used in association with blood and tissue cultures are the most reliable diagnostic tests. Antimicrobial treatment should be administered for 3-4 weeks, initially intravenously, later switching to oral medication. Surgery is indicated to drain acute abscesses or when no improvement is achieved following antibiotic treatment.

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Korakaki E, Aligizakis A, Manoura A, et al. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus osteomyelitis and septic arthritis in neonates: diagnosis and management. Jpn J Infect Dis. 2007 May;60(2-3):129-31.

Acute osteomyelitis (AO) in neonates, although rare, represents a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. A high index of suspicion is necessary to make an early diagnosis, and the observation of clinical signs is crucial. The increasing prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an emerging problem in pediatrics. In neonates, MRSA infections can cause a wide spectrum of diseases including bone and joint infections. We report two cases of AO in full-term neonates, with no risk factors, due to MRSA.

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Offiah AC. Acute osteomyelitis, septic arthritis and discitis: differences between neonates and older children. Eur J Radiol. 2006 Nov;60(2):221-32.

There are aetiological, clinical, radiological and therapeutic differences between musculoskeletal infection in the neonate (and infant) and in older children and adults. Due to the anatomy and blood supply in neonates, osteomyelitis often co-exists with septic arthritis. Discitis is more common in infants whereas vertebral body infection is more common in adults. This review article discusses the important clinical and radiological differences that in the past have led many authors to consider neonatal osteomyelitis a separate entity from osteomyelitis in the older child.

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Estienne M, Scaioli V, Zibordi F, Angelini L. Enigmatic osteomyelitis and bilateral upper limb palsy in a neonate. Pediatr Neurol. 2005 Jan;32(1):56-9.

This report describes a male infant who developed right upper limb palsy 5 days after birth and contralateral paralysis at 14 days. Abnormal in utero posture of the right arm had resulted in a difficult cephalic delivery. Right shoulder osteomyelitis was diagnosed at age 16 days from clinical, hematologic, and radiologic findings. Antibiotics were administered, followed by complete resolution of the symptoms in 2 weeks. Electromyographic and nerve conduction studies demonstrated direct involvement of the right brachial plexus, secondary to the osteomyelitis, explaining the unilateral onset and the persistent neurogenic pattern involving the muscles innervated by the right posterior branch to the brachial plexus. However, somatosensory evoked potentials indicated damage to the cervical spinal cord likely related to the birth trauma, which in all likelihood was the cause of the left limb palsy and contributed to the right limb picture.

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