Infections involving bony tissue within the body are termed osteomyelitis. Bacterial osteomyelitis in cats can occur secondary to a deep bite wound or some other type of penetrating trauma.
Open fractures can also predispose to bone infections. Furthermore, fungal organisms, such as histoplasmosis and blastomycosis, can also spread from other areas of the body via the blood and infect bony tissue in pets.
Cats with osteomyelitis are lame and feverish, and usually feel considerable pain at the affected site. These signs, combined with the localized swelling that often occurs, can easily be mistaken for a fracture and must be differentiated from one.
To do this, radiographic X rays should be taken of the suspected skeletal region. In addition, bone biopsies might be necessary to differentiate some cases of osteomyelitis from bone tumors, and to collect samples for bacterial or fungal cultures.
Because infections that become embedded in bone can be difficult to clear up with antibiotics alone, surgery is usually needed to actually remove those portions of bone severely affected.
Drain tubes are placed as well to allow for postsurgical drainage and flushing of the site with medicated solutions. Following surgery, antibiotic therapy might be required for 1 to 2 months. If a fungal organism is involved, medications might need to be given for 4 to 6 months.