Osteomyelitis and septic arthritis in children: appropriate use of imaging to guide treatment

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1995 Aug;165(2):399-403. doi: 10.2214/ajr.165.2.7618566.


Modern imaging techniques have become essential components of the management of acute osteomyelitis and septic arthritis in children. This article addresses the role of these techniques, based on clinical practice guidelines recently developed at a children's hospital by an interdisciplinary group. The recommendations reflect a review of the literature and an analysis of our own experience with 84 children treated for musculoskeletal sepsis during the past 3 years. We attempt to optimize imaging resources by analyzing the unique aspects of these infections in the pediatric skeleton, the clinical needs at different stages of the disease, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various imaging procedures. Our goal was to define the use of imaging in cases of osteomyelitis and septic arthritis in children in specific clinical scenarios in which additional information is likely to lead to management modification.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Arthritis, Infectious / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Infectious / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Osteomyelitis / diagnosis*
  • Osteomyelitis / therapy