Definition of Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is an acute or chronic bone infection.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Bone infection can be caused by bacteria (more common) or fungi (less common).

Signs and tests

A physical examination shows bone tenderness and possibly swelling and redness.


The goal of treatment is to get rid of the infection and reduce damage to the bone and surrounding tissues.

Expectations (prognosis)

With treatment, the outcome for acute osteomyelitis is usually good.


David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/25/2010


ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.