Musculoskeletal infections in children: How can we do better?

Infections in children can be scary. When it comes to musculoskeletal infections, there is still a lot to learn. In our recent article, we take an in-depth look at a specific type of musculoskeletal infection called pyomyositis.

Musculoskeletal infections in children can go poorly. We know from a lot of medical journals that there are some pretty astonishing variations in how these are diagnosed in different parts of the world. We also know that the way that orthopaedic surgeons, the specialist doctor that would deal with musculoskeletal infections in children, go about treating these infections can be different at different hospitals.


In our recent article, Primary bacterial pyomyositis in children: A systematic review, we take a look at a very specific type of infection in children called ‘pyomyositis’. Literally speaking, ‘pyo’ means pus, ‘myo’ means muscle, and ‘itis’ simply means inflammation. Put that together, and the result is a bacterial infection of the muscle. Or pyomyositis for short.


It turns out that paediatric pyomyositis is especially tricky within the family of musculoskeletal infections in children. Firstly, all of the variations in practice mentioned in the first paragraph still apply. But additionally, as we show in our article, this type of infection has symptoms that are non-specific and could be attributed to other illnesses. We explore this in our research and show this clearly in the results in the article. Furthermore, this type of infection can is not localised to one are in the body and can happen in almost any part of the body, even the eye, which was an unusual finding. We show this in greater detail in our article. 


All of these issues mean that paediatric pyomyositis can often elude doctors, while the infection could be getting worse. This ultimately means that children are diagnosed late and thus treated even later. The good news is that the treatment is generally very effective. We showed that almost half of children can get better without surgery (see our infographic). For the children who need surgery, it’s a simple procedure with a low complication rate.


We looked at this issue and undertook the research in the hopes that globally, doctors and surgeons will learn more about this specific type of infection and how to spot it early. However, we also hope that the general public are interested in learning more about our research here.

This work was completed by:

Neeraj Vij

University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix

475 N 5th St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

MD Candidate, Class of 2023

Vij, Neeraj BS*; Ranade, Ashish S. MS, MBBS†; Kang, Paul MS, MPH‡; Belthur, Mohan V. MD, FRCSC§ Primary Bacterial Pyomyositis in Children: A Systematic Review, Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: October 2021 – Volume 41 – Issue 9 – p e849-e854 10.1097/BPO.0000000000001944

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