Estimating the healthcare burden of osteomyelitis in Uganda
Stanley, Christine M.
Rutherford, George W.
Coughlin, Richard R.
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Chronic osteomyelitis is a considerable healthcare burden in many developing countries, but this burden is poorly quantified. To estimate the clinical burden of osteomyelitis we systematically sampled the medical records of orthopaedic clinics at five hospitals in Uganda. To estimate the surgical burden of osteomyelitis we reviewed the diagnosis in 9354 operations conducted during a 1 year period at the same five hospitals. Of 1844 outpatients with a documented diagnosis sampled over 1 year, 187 (10%) had osteomyelitis. Only 20% of those with osteomyelitis were older than 20 years, whereas this age group accounted for 52% of patients with another orthopaedic diagnosis or no diagnosis (P < 0.001). Osteomyelitis was diagnosed in 325 (3.5%) of the surgical operations; in 32% of these operations the patients were children aged between 10 and 14 years. The tibia was the bone most frequently involved (31%), and sequestrectomy was the most frequent surgical procedure (60%). These findings suggest that osteomyelitis disproportionately affects the young, and is a burden on both clinical and surgical services. To decrease this burden in populations with limited resources, improved diagnosis and more timely treatment of acute osteomyelitis is needed.