The management of musculoskeletal infection in HIV carriers

Jean Bahebeck, Roger Bedimo, Victor Eyenga, Charles Kouamfack, Thompson Kingue, Marcel Nierenet, Maurice Sosso

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9 Scopus citations


Over a three-year period, the authors prospectively implemented a protocol for management of musculoskeletal sepsis (MSS) in HIV carriers in Yaounde, Cameroon. The diagnosis of MSS was based on conventional criteria. HIV carriage was screened by an ELISA test and confirmed with the Western Blot technique. The immune status was based on CD4 lymphocyte count by flow cytometry; patients were classified as non-immunodepressed (NID), mildly immunodepressed (MID), or severely immunodepressed (SID) based on their CD4 lymphocyte count, as the latter was respectively over 500, between 200 and 500 or less than 200 per ml. Infection was treated by surgical debridement followed by a long-course targeted antibiotic therapy. All SID patients and some MID patients with AIDS-related symptoms also had standard antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. Thirty-one of 294 patients seen with musculoskeletal sepsis during the study period and tested for HIV were found to be HIV carriers. Their mean age was 33 years; the male/female ratio was 1.58. The following clinical pictures were observed : chronic osteomyelitis (COM) in 32.3% of the cases, septic arthritis (SA) in 38.7%, soft tissue infection (STI) in 25.8%; the last case was a severe leg complication of Buruli Ulcer (BU). Among these 31 patients, 38.7% were classified as SID (5 COM, 4 SA, 2 STI and the BU patient), 25.8% as MID (2 COM, 4 SA, 2 STI) and 35.5% as NID (3 COM, 6 SA, 2 STI). The organisms involved were not specific. Fifteen patients were managed conventionally, while the other 16 had the usual treatment associated with ARV therapy. The immediate outcome of MSS was good in 29 patients, after a mean hospital stay of five weeks; in two cases of septic arthritis of the knee, a second debridement was needed, due to persistent drainage, and the sinuses all closed. Three months after discharge, one patient with COM of the humerus developed a low-flow fistula which was closed after a revision sequestrectomy. After one year, none of the patients complained of any symptom suggesting reactivation of their MSS. There is no evidence that HIV carriage is in itself a high risk factor for musculoskeletal sepsis; the incidence of HIV carriage was indeed virtually similar in the 294 patients with MSS and in the general population, i.e. around 10%. However, in order to improve the outcome following musculoskeletal infections in patients with HIV, their management should take into account their immune status, based on a CD4 lymphocyte count. NID patients should be treated as any other patients with MSS, while SID should have additional standard ARV treatment. For those who are MID, the indication for antiretroviral therapy should depend on the presence of one or more AIDS-related signs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-360
Number of pages6
JournalActa orthopaedica Belgica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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