Malignant Transformation in Chronic Osteomyelitis: Recognition and Principles of Management

Michalis Panteli J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2014 vol. 22 no. 9

Malignant transformation as a result of chronic osteomyelitis represents a relatively rare and late complication with a declining incidence in the modern world. For most patients, the interval between the occurrence of the original bacterial infection and the transformation to malignant degeneration is several years. The diagnosis of malignant transformation in a chronic discharging sinus requires a high index of clinical suspicion. Wound biopsies should be obtained early, especially with the onset of new clinical signs such as increased pain, a foul smell, and changes in wound drainage. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common presenting malignancy. Definitive treatment is amputation proximal to the tumor or wide local excision, combined with adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy in selected patients. Early diagnosis may sometimes allow for treatment consisting of en bloc excision and limb salvage techniques. However, the most effective treatment is prevention with definitive treatment of the osteomyelitis, including adequate débridement, wide excision of the affected area, and early reconstruction. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2014 vol. 22 no. 9

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