Acute haematogenous osteomyelitis and septic arthritis--a single disease. An hypothesis based upon the presence of transphyseal blood vessels

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1986 Mar;68(2):268-74.


The acute childhood diseases haematogenous staphylococcal osteomyelitis and septic arthritis were studied concurrently using avian models which closely resemble the human diseases. Ultrastructural studies during the initial stages of bone and joint infection showed that adherence of bacteria to cartilage, bacterial proliferation, cartilage destruction and subsequent bacterial spread along the vascular channels within cartilage were common to both disease processes. Histological studies revealed that transphyseal blood vessels were present in the growing chickens and were a likely explanation for the frequency of the concurrence of acute osteomyelitis and adjacent joint infection following intravenous injection of bacteria. Transphyseal vessels provide a direct connection between the growth plate (physis) and epiphyseal cartilage supplying a route for bacteria to spread from an osteomyelitic focus in the metaphysis to the epiphysis and subsequently to the joint lumen.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Infectious / microbiology
  • Arthritis, Infectious / pathology*
  • Blood Vessels / pathology
  • Chickens
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Growth Plate / blood supply
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Osteomyelitis / microbiology
  • Osteomyelitis / pathology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / pathology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus