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General Orthopaedics

Can we predict outcome after treatment of long bone osteomyelitis?

a study of patient-reported quality of life stratified with the BACH classification

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This study presents patient-reported quality of life (QoL) over the first year following surgical debridement of long bone osteomyelitis. It assesses the bone involvement, antimicrobial options, coverage of soft tissues, and host status (BACH) classification as a prognostic tool and its ability to stratify cases into ‘uncomplicated’ or ‘complex’.


Patients with long-bone osteomyelitis were identified prospectively between June 2010 and October 2015. All patients underwent surgical debridement in a single-staged procedure at a specialist bone infection unit. Self-reported QoL was assessed prospectively using the three-level EuroQol five-dimension questionnaire (EQ-5D-3L) index score and visual analogue scale (EQ-VAS) at five postoperative time-points (baseline, 14 days, 42 days, 120 days, and 365 days). BACH classification was applied retrospectively by two clinicians blinded to outcome.


In total, 71 patients with long-bone osteomyelitis were included. There was significant improvement from time of surgery to one year postoperatively in mean EQ-VAS (58.2 to 78.9; p < 0.001) and mean EQ-5D-3L index scores (0.284 to 0.740; p < 0.001). At one year following surgery, BACH ‘uncomplicated’ osteomyelitis was associated with better QoL compared to BACH ‘complex’ osteomyelitis (mean EQ-5D-3L 0.900 vs 0.685; p = 0.020; mean EQ-VAS 87.1 vs 73.6; p = 0.043). Patients with uncomplicated bone involvement (BACH type B1, cavitary) reported higher QoL at all time-points when compared to complex bone involvement (B2, segmental or B3, osteomyelitis involving a joint). Patients with good antimicrobial options (Ax or A1) gave higher outcome scores compared to patients with multidrug-resistant isolates (A2). The need for microvascular tissue transfer (C1 and C2) did not impact significantly on QoL. Patients without major comorbidities (uncomplicated, H1) reported higher QoL compared to those with significant disease (complex, H2).


Uncomplicated osteomyelitis, as defined by BACH, gave higher self-reported QoL when compared to complex cases. The bone involvement, antimicrobial options, and host status variables were able to stratify patients in terms of QoL. These data can be used to offer prognostic information to patients who are undergoing treatment for long bone osteomyelitis.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(11):1587–1596.

Correspondence should be sent to Andrew J. Hotchen. E-mail:

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