Osteomyelitis of the pubic symphysis in athletes: a case report and literature review

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1995 Apr;27(4):473-9.


Groin pain is a common problem in athletes. Osteitis pubis, a chronic inflammatory condition involving the pubic symphysis, is a rare cause, and pyogenic osteomyelitis of the pubis is seen even more rarely in healthy athletes. We report one of four cases of pyogenic osteomyelitis of the pubis seen at our institution, review our experience with all four cases, and present a review of the literature (7 cases). The diagnosis is established by the presence of extreme pain, point tenderness at the pubic symphysis, fever, and either a positive culture of blood, needle aspiration, or open biopsy of the pubis. White blood cell count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and the results of bone scan and computerized tomography may initially be normal and therefore cannot exclude the diagnosis. Prompt treatment with intravenous (i.v.) antibiotics effective against Staphylococcus aureus (causative organism in all documented cases-9/11) should initially be administered and then guided by culture and sensitivity information. Oral antibiotics should be given if the infection is responsive to i.v. antibiotic treatment. Prompt recognition and treatment with antibiotics may obviate the need for surgical debridement. All athletes who returned to sports activity did so by 6 months after diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Football
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteomyelitis* / diagnosis
  • Osteomyelitis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteomyelitis* / drug therapy
  • Pubic Symphysis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed