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Bone Infection in Cats

Osteomyelitis in Cats

Inflammation of the bone or bone marrow is called osteomyelitis. This most commonly occurs due to bacterial infections, but also shows up rarely as a fungal infections. Inflammation may be due to an acute (sudden) infection, or to a chronic infection. Infections from other areas of body may reach the bones or bone marrow through the bloodstream, or the infection may come from another infection that is close in proximity to the bone. Another common cause of such infections is road-side accidents or injuries involving the bone and soft tissues. Patients that have undergone surgical implants or other bone surgeries may also acquire a subsequent infection.

Symptoms and Types

  • Episodic lameness
  • Persistent ulcers
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Limb pain
  • Wasting of muscles
  • Limb swelling

Causes

  • Trauma
  • Fractures
  • Post-surgery
  • Prosthetic joint implantation
  • Gunshot wound
  • Bite and claw wounds
  • Systemic infections reaching the bones

Diagnosis

You will need to give a thorough history of your cat's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian an idea of whether this condition is acute or chronic. If the infection has gone undiagnosed for any length of time, the presence of new bone growth over the site of the infected bone will be an indication of its duration.

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your cat, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count (CBC), and a urinalysis. The results of this lab work will usually reveal an underlying infection and level of immune system response to existing infection. If a fungal infection is suspected, special testing may be required to isolate and identify the causative fungal organism. X-rays of the affected bones may show evidence of chronic infections, with changes in bone structure. Changes may present as bone resorption, widening of the fracture gap, and other such abnormalities. Ultrasound imaging will give your veterinarian a better view of the bones, which may show accumulations of pus in the bone. The doctor will then be able to utilize the ultrasound in order to take a sample of fluid and pus from the infection site for further laboratory analysis and culturing. Once the culture has isolated the specific organism that is causing the infection, your doctor will know the course to take in eradicating the bacteria.

In some cases surgical biopsy of the bone may be conducted for further confirmation. In case of systemic infections, your veterinarian will collect a blood sample and grow the causative organism within the sample in order to find the most suitable antibiotic drugs for treatment.

 
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