We aimed to evaluate surrogate markers commonly used in the literature for diabetic foot osteomyelitis remission after initial treatment for diabetic foot infections (DFIs).
Thirty-five patients with DFIs were prospectively enrolled and followed for 12 months. Osteomyelitis was determined from bone culture and histologic analysis initially and for recurrence. Fisher exact and χ2 tests were used for dichotomous variables and Student t and Mann-Whitney U tests for continuous variables (α = .05).
Twenty-four patients were diagnosed as having osteomyelitis and 11 as having soft-tissue infections. Four patients (16.7%) with osteomyelitis had reinfection based on bone biopsy. The success of osteomyelitis treatment varied based on the surrogate marker used to define remission: osteomyelitis infection (16.7%), failed wound healing (8.3%), reulceration (20.8%), readmission (16.7%), amputation (12.5%). There was no difference in outcomes among patients who were initially diagnosed as having osteomyelitis versus soft-tissue infections. There were no differences in osteomyelitis reinfection (16.7% versus 45.5%; P = .07), wounds that failed to heal (8.3% versus 9.1%; P = .94), reulceration (20.8% versus 27.3%; P = .67), readmission for DFIs at the same site (16.7% versus 36.4%; P = .20), amputation at the same site after discharge (12.5% versus 36.4%; P = .10). Osteomyelitis at the index site based on bone biopsy indicated that failed therapy was 16.7%. Indirect markers demonstrated a failure rate of 8.3% to 20.8%.
Most osteomyelitis markers were similar to markers in soft-tissue infection. Commonly reported surrogate markers were not shown to be specific to identify patients who failed osteomyelitis treatment compared with patients with soft-tissue infections. Given this, these surrogate markers are not reliable for use in practice to identify osteomyelitis treatment failure.