Acute hematogenous osteomyelitis (AHO) is a severe infection in children. Drainage of purulent collections in bones provides specimens for culture as well as therapeutic benefit. Interventional radiology (IR)-guided procedures may serve as a less invasive means of culture in select patients. We examined the impact of IR and surgically obtained cultures in the diagnosis and management of AHO.


A retrospective review of cases of AHO was performed from 2011 to 2014. Patients with chronic disease, orthopedic hardware, puncture wounds, or an infected contiguous focus were excluded.


A total of 250 cases met inclusion criteria. Blood cultures were positive in 107 of 231 cases (46.3%), and 123 of 150 patients had positive cultures (82%) obtained by orthopedic surgery. Of these 123 patients, 62 (50.4%) had organisms identified only through operating room (OR) cultures. Of the 66 patients who had cultures obtained by IR, 34 (51.5%) had positive IR cultures. For those with positive IR cultures, 18 (52.9%) had negative blood cultures. Among the 80 patients with negative blood culture and positive OR/IR culture, the results changed antibiotic therapy in 68 (85%) patients.


IR or OR culture was the only means of identifying a pathogen in 80 of 216 cases (37%), and in >80% changed medical management. IR can be used effectively to obtain bone cultures in children with AHO not requiring open surgical drainage. Further research is needed to better understand the optimal utilization of IR and OR culture in pediatric AHO.

You do not currently have access to this content.