Infection Following a Femur Fracture
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. A femur fracture, or a break of the thigh bone, can be incredibly painful and requires a significant amount of force to break. Therefore, many of these breaks occur in traumatic accidents, such as an auto accident. Unfortunately, complications of a femur fracture can happen, and one of the most common complications is an infection. An infection following a fracture of the femur is severe and is termed osteomyelitis. Some of the pertinent statistics on osteomyelitis released by myVMC include:
- About 2 out of every 10,000 people will contract osteomyelitis; however, the incidence is much higher following a bone fracture
- Staphylococcus species, such as MRSA, are the causative organism in about 90 percent of all cases of osteomyelitis
- Other possible organisms include Salmonella and Haemophilus Influenza
- The rate of osteomyelitis is much higher in individuals with sickle cell anemia
Diagnosis of Osteomyelitis
Because osteomyelitis is such a severe infection, particularly after a traumatic injury, it is important to diagnose it early so that treatment can be initiated. Therefore, it is essential for everyone to understand how osteomyelitis can happen. The two significant ways are:
- Bacteria can enter the body when the fracture occurs. These fractures are termed open fractures because the bone tears a hole in the skin through which bacteria can enter.
- An infection can also occur during surgery. Even though this is rare because all equipment is sterilized, it can still happen. The infection rate with a surgical procedure is under 1%.
Risk Factors and Symptoms of Bone Infections
While osteomyelitis is rare, specific risk factors can increase the likelihood of contracting an infection. Examples include:
- Diabetes mellitus, either type 1 or type 2
- Diseases that lead to immunodeficiency, such as HIV, AIDS, cancer, and other genetic issues
- Smoking or nicotine use
- Poor nutrition
- Poor dental hygiene, such as cavities or gingivitis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
All of these diseases can lower the body’s ability to fight infection. Therefore, this increases the chances of contracting an infection, particularly with a femur fracture or after surgery to repair this injury. Some of the symptoms of a bone infection following a fracture of the femur include:
- Increased pain over the femur, particularly where any incisions have been made (surgical or traumatic)
- A pocket of warmth around the injury site
- An area of redness, called erythema, where the fracture occurred
- Increased swelling at the site of the injury
Perhaps the most critical symptom is pus. Sometimes, this pocket will burst, and pus will start to drain from the injury site. Other possible symptoms include fevers, chills, and even night sweats that soak through the bed sheets. Once osteomyelitis has been diagnosed, treatment can be initiated.
Treatment of an Infected Fracture Site
The treatment of any bone fracture involves repair; however, if osteomyelitis has set in, IV antibiotics are needed. Unfortunately, some people who have had plates and screws placed in their bone to hold the fracture together will need to have this equipment removed. Sometimes, equipment can become infected. Antibiotics cannot decontaminate equipment because this equipment has no blood flow to it. Without blood flow, antibiotics cannot reach this site. Therefore, the equipment will need to be removed and replaced. Sometimes, drains might be left in place after the surgical procedure to make sure this infection does not return. Most cases have a good prognosis.
Contact a Compassionate Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. A femur fracture is severe and can be life-threatening. If you or someone you love has suffered a femur fracture in an accident, please call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.
I am proudly listed as a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
You are welcome to browse through our Verdicts and Settlements page.
Image Attribution: The image at the beginning of this article was seen first on Unsplash. The picture has been printed here with permission
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