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Bone, Joint, & Muscle Infections in Children Treatment

Orthopedic Surgery

How are infections in children treated without surgery?

Antibiotics are often used to treat infections. Different types of antibiotics include:

  • Intravenous. At first, your child will need to stay at the hospital to receive antibiotics through their veins (intravenous or IV). How long your child will stay in the hospital will depend on how severe the infection is. Most children with bone, joint, or muscle infections are in the hospital for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Oral. For many children, the antibiotic is eventually changed to a form that can be taken by mouth (oral) and given at home.
  • PICC line. Some children can continue to receive an antibiotic by vein at home through a special intravenous device called a PICC (pronounced "pick") line. Peripherally introduced central catheter (PICC).

The amount of time on antibiotics that is needed to resolve an infection varies from child to child but, in general, is 4 to 6 weeks for a bone infection and 3 to 4 weeks for joint or muscle infections.

It is very important to have your child take all of the antibiotics he or she is given, in exactly the way they are prescribed.

How are infections in children treated with surgery?

In mild infections, antibiotics alone may resolve the condition. Many children, however, will need surgery to remove infected material (pus) from the area of infection. This will reduce pressure and inflammation and improve blood flow, which will make it easier for the antibiotics to reach the infected area. For most children, one surgical procedure is enough, but more severe infections may require two or more surgeries to help resolve the infection.

What is the typical outcome of children with infections?

Most children will completely recover from deep infections after proper treatment. They are not likely to develop the same infection again. In most cases, children have no further problems and return to all of their activities.

In general, children do better when the infection is recognized early. There is a greater chance for full recovery when the infection is quickly recognized and treated. The later the diagnosis is made, the more likely it is that the infection will cause greater damage to the bones, muscles and other tissues that are involved.

Some problems can occur in children who have serious and prolonged infections. These include blood clots, growth arrests, deformed bones, fractures through bone that is weakened from infection, bone death (called necrosis), and joint stiffness. However, these problems are rare.