Background Osteomyelitis is a difficult-to-cure infection with a high relapse rate despite combined medical and surgical therapies. Some severity factors, duration of antimicrobial therapy and type of surgical procedure might influence osteomyelitis relapse. Methods 116 patients with osteomyelitis were followed for ≥1 year after hospital discharge. Demographic, microbiological and clinical data, eight severity factors and treatment (surgical and antibiotic) were analyzed. Results Mean age was 53 years and 74.1% were men. Tibia (62.1%) and S. aureus (58.5%) were the most commonly involved bone and bacteria, respectively. Mean follow-up was 67.1 months. Forty-six patients underwent bone debridement, 61 debridement plus flap coverage and 9 antimicrobial therapy only. Twenty-six patients (22.4%) relapsed, at a mean of 11.2 months since hospital discharge. Duration > 3 months (p = 0.025), number of severity factors (P = 0.02) and absence of surgery (P = 0.004) were associated with osteomyelitis relapse in the univariate analysis. In the Cox regression analysis, osteomyelitis duration > 3 months (P = 0.012), bone exposure (P = 0.0003) and type of surgery (P < 0.0001) were associated with relapse. Regarding the surgical modalities, bone debridement with muscle flap was associated with better osteomyelitis outcomes, as compared with no surgery (P < 0.0001) and debridement only (P = 0.004). Conclusions Osteomyelitis extending for > 3 months, bone exposure and treatment other than surgical debridement with muscular flap are risk factors for osteomyelitis relapse.
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