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Bone, Joint, & Muscle Infections in Children Diagnosis

Orthopedic Surgery

How are infections diagnosed in children?

Make sure to tell your child's doctor the circumstances surrounding the symptoms, such as when the symptoms began, and whether there was a prior infection or injury.

After discussing your child's symptoms and medical history, your doctor will examine the painful area. He or she may ask your child to move the affected area to see whether movement increases the pain.

Tests

Other tests that may help your doctor confirm a diagnosis and plan your child's treatment include:

  • Blood tests and tissue cultures. Tests on your child's blood, as well as fluid and/or tissue from the infected area, can help identify the bacteria or other organism causing the infection. This information about the infection helps your doctor determine the most effective ways to treat it.
  • Imaging tests. Tests, such as x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and ultrasound, provide your child's doctor with pictures of the bones, muscles, and soft tissues in the affected area. Your doctor will look for swelling around bones and muscles, or fluid within the joints that are infected. This information helps your doctor when making the decision whether to treat the infection with antibiotics alone or to perform surgery to help resolve it.