Diabetic foot osteomyelitis

Diabetes Metab. 2008 Apr;34(2):87-95. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2007.09.005. Epub 2008 Jan 31.


Bone infection in the diabetic foot is always a complication of a preexisting infected foot wound. Prevalence can be as high as 66%. Diagnosis can be suspected in two mains conditions: no healing (or no depth decrease) in spite of appropriate care and off-loading, and/or a visible or palpated bone with a metal probe. The first recommended diagnostic step is to perform (and if necessary to repeat) plain radiographs. After a four-week treatment period, if plain radiographs are still normal, suspicion for bone infection will persist in case of bad evolution despite optimized management of off-loading and arterial disease. It is only in such cases that other diagnosis methods than plain radiographs must be used. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common pathogen cultured from bone samples, followed by Staphylococcus epidermidis. Among enterobacteriaceae, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia and Proteus sp. are the most common, followed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Surprisingly, bacteria usually considered contaminant (as coagulase negative staphylococci (CNS) and Corynebacterium sp.) have been documented to be pathogens in the osteomyelitis of diabetic foot. Traditional approach to treatment of chronic osteomyelitis was by surgical resection of infected and necrotic bone. But new classes of antibiotics have both the required spectrum of activity and the capacity to penetrate and concentrate in the infected bone. Recently, several observations of osteomyelitis remission following non-surgical management with a prolonged course of antibiotics have been published. Lastly, combined approach with local bone excision and antibiotics has been proposed. Prospective trials should be undertaken to determine the relative roles of surgery and antibiotics in managing diabetic foot osteomyelitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Bone and Bones / pathology
  • Diabetic Foot / complications*
  • Diabetic Foot / epidemiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Foot / anatomy & histology
  • Foot / pathology
  • Humans
  • Leukocytosis / etiology
  • Osteomyelitis / diagnosis
  • Osteomyelitis / epidemiology
  • Osteomyelitis / etiology*
  • Osteomyelitis / pathology
  • Physical Examination