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The Utility of Echocardiography in Paediatric Patients with Musculoskeletal Infections and Bacteremia



The clinical utility of echocardiography in the setting of a positive blood culture in paediatric patients presenting with osteomyelitis (OM) and/or septic arthritis (SA).


Retrospective review between 2013 and 2019: Patients < 18 years with OM, SA or combined infection (OM+SA) were included. Patients were excluded for immunodeficiency, loss of follow-up or penetrating infection. Charts with positive blood cultures were reviewed for echocardiography on that admission. Demographic variables were compared utilizing the Student's t-test and Fisher's exact test. A multivariable linear regression model was constructed to examine the association between echocardiography and length of stay, controlling for age, sex, fever, white blood cell (WBC) on admission, antibiotic administration and surgery performed.


Of 157 patients with OM, SA or combined infection, 44 had a positive blood culture. In all, 26 had an echocardiogram, and none showed endocarditis. Echocardiography was independently associated with a 6.2-day length of stay increase. WBC count and surgical intervention demonstrated a trend toward significance in length of stay, with each WBC unit increase associated with a 0.53-day increase. Surgical intervention was associated with an average 6.3-day length of stay decrease.


No patient had a positive echocardiogram, and no changes in management were initiated. However, an echocardiogram increased stay by 6.2 days. In addition to costs associated with increased stay, patients were billed between $1460 and $1700 per echocardiogram. The utility of echocardiograms in the setting of bacteremia associated with musculoskeletal infections in the paediatric population should be re-examined, and guidelines should be updated to reflect the cost-benefit analysis.

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