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Introduction: Curative surgical treatment of chronic osteomyelitis often requires free tissue transfer if there is significant soft tissue compromise. We investigated whether age influenced outcomes of curative osteomyelitis excision in those patients requiring free muscle flap soft tissue reconstruction. Methods: We assessed ninety-five consecutive patients treated with excision of chronic osteomyelitis, skeletal stabilisation/reconstruction and free muscle transfer between 2006 and 2012. We compared outcomes of those aged ≥60 years (n=23) with those <60 years old (n=72). Results: Groups were similar with regard to Cierny and Mader anatomic type and physiological host classification. Length of procedure and length of hospital stay were similar for both groups. There was a greater proportion of ASA grade III patients in the older cohort. Infection recurrence occurred in one of the older cohort (4.3%) and in seven patients in the younger cohort (9.9%) at a mean follow-up of 42 months (range 11-131 months), this was not statistically significant (p=0.27874). There were five free flap losses (6.9%) in the younger group and none in the older group. A greater proportion of patients from the younger cohort required further unplanned surgery (28%) compared to the older group (4.3%), which was statistically significant (p=0.01174). Seven patients (7.4%) had serious medical complications - five of whom were in the younger cohort, including one mortality. Conclusions: Both the young and old can enjoy satisfactory outcomes from surgical resection of chronic osteomyelitis with simultaneous orthoplastic reconstruction including free tissue transfer. Age alone should not be a barrier to potentially curative surgical treatment.

Original publication




Journal article


J Bone Jt Infect

Publication Date





181 - 188


Osteomyelitis, bone infection, elderly, fracture-related infection, free flap, free tissue transfer, old age