Ultrasound in Emergency Medicine| Volume 57, ISSUE 4, P550-553, October 2019

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Point-of-Care Ultrasound in a Child with Chest Wall Pain and Rib Osteomyelitis



      Diagnosis of acute osteomyelitis in young children can be challenging due to the lack of specific clinical signs and symptoms. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is essential to prevent complications and to improve long-term prognosis and reduce the need for operative intervention. Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) may be a useful tool to detect early changes associated with osteomyelitis.

      Case Report

      A 26-month-old boy presented with 6 days of fever and 3 days of focal pain over the right anterior lower ribs without swelling, erythema, or bony deformity, and negative chest x-ray study. A POCUS was performed by the ultrasound fellows and revealed deep soft tissue swelling, periosteal elevation, and increased vascular flow with color Doppler. The patient was admitted to the pediatric service with infectious disease consultation and started on antibiotics. Magnetic resonance imaging confirmed the diagnosis of a right seventh anterior rib osteomyelitis, and the patient subsequently improved and was discharged home.

      Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?

      In this case, the use of POCUS in the emergency department heightened the suspicion for acute osteomyelitis in a rare location and guided early diagnosis and treatment.


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