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Vertebral Osteomyelitis

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Last updated July 15, 2022

Vertebral osteomyelitis quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your vertebral osteomyelitis.

What is vertebral osteomyelitis?

A bone infection, also called osteomyelitis, occurs when bacteria invade and infect the bones. Cuts, wounds, and traumatic injuries can lead to a bone infection. Bacteria enter the body through the broken skin of the wound and infect nearby bones.

When the infection is in the vertebrae of the spine, it’s called vertebral osteomyelitis. It usually occurs by the spread of bacteria through the blood to the spine.



If you suspect you have a bone infection, see your doctor right away. If you have a high fever or severe pain, however, you should go to the ER.

Without treatment, osteomyelitis can worsen and lead to sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition. Other complications of untreated bone infections include bone fracture, deformity, and bone death.

A doctor will perform blood tests to look for inflammation and signs of infection. You will also get X-rays or an MRI to diagnose osteomyelitis. If things are still not clear, a biopsy might be needed to look at what is going on in the spine.

Treatment involves antibiotics either by mouth or by an IV. Surgery is rarely needed unless there is an implant in the back.

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The stories shared below are not written by Buoy employees. Buoy does not endorse any of the information in these stories. Whenever you have questions or concerns about a medical condition, you should always contact your doctor or a healthcare provider.
Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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