The diagnosis of osteomyelitis of the foot in diabetes: microbiological examination vs. magnetic resonance imaging and labelled leucocyte scanning


: M. Bulent Ertugrul, Adnan Menderes University Medical Faculty, Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, Aydin, Turkey. E-mail:


Aims  Foot infections and their sequelae are among the most common and severe complications of diabetes mellitus. As diabetic patients with foot infections develop osteomyelitis and may progress to amputation, early diagnosis of osteomyelitis is critical.

Methods  We compared the diagnostic values of labelled leucocyte scanning with Tc99m, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and microbiological examination of bone tissue specimens with histopathology, the definitive diagnostic procedure. Thirty-one diabetic patients with foot lesions were enrolled in the study and histopathological examination was performed in all. Patients had clinically suspected foot lesions of ≥ grade 3 according to the classification of Wagner.

Results  Bone specimens were obtained for histopathological examination. Microbiology had a sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 60%. Labelled leucocyte scanning had a sensitivity of 91%, specificity of 67%, and MRI a sensitivity of 78%, specificity of 60%.

Conclusions  Microbiological examination may be as useful as and less costly than other diagnostic procedures and is the only method which can guide the choice of antibiotic therapy.