Adequate debridement of necrotic bone is of paramount importance for eradication of infection in chronic osteomyelitis. Currently, no tools are available to detect the exact amount of necrotic bone in order to optimize surgical resection. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the feasibility of an intraoperative illumination method (VELscope®) and the correlation between intraoperative and pathohistological findings in surgically treated chronic fracture related infection patients.
Ten consecutive patients with chronic fracture related infections of the lower extremity were included into this prospectively performed case series. All patients had to be treated surgically for fracture related infections requiring bony debridement. An intraoperative illumination method (VELscope®) was used to intraoperatively differentiate between viable and necrotic bone. Tissue samples from the identified viable and necrotic bone areas were histopathologically examined and compared to intraoperative findings.
In all included patients, the intraoperative illumination was deemed helpful to differentiate between necrotic and viable bone tissues during bony debridement. The histopathological examination of the samples showed good correlation of the intraoperative illumination findings with histopathological signs of necrosis for areas deemed dead and histopathological signs of intact bone for areas deemed vital during illumination.
The fluorescence-assisted, intraoperative detection of necrotic and viable bone using the VELscope® is an easy-to-use procedure that can help surgeons to optimize intraoperative bone resection in chronic fracture related infections by unmasking viable from necrotic bone tissue. This may help to improve resection techniques and eventually treatment outcome in patients in the future.