Diagnosing Osteomyelitis: A Histology Guide for Pathologists

Amelia B. Sybenga, Daniel C. Jupiter, V. O. Speights, Arundhati Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Histopathologic examination of bone specimens coupled with bone culture is considered the gold standard for the diagnosis of osteomyelitis (OM). Despite this, studies have demonstrated interpathologist agreement in the diagnosis of OM as low as 30%, largely stemming from a lack of specific definitions and diagnostic criteria. Review of the literature has provided insight into the lifecycle of OM, illustrating the histologic progression of OM phases from acute to chronic, and provides support for defining subcategories of OM. Using an algorithmic histopathologic tool consisting of 15 criteria, each with an associated score, we defined 5 categories of OM: (1) acute OM, (2) acute and chronic OM, (3) chronic OM, (4) chronic active OM, and (5) chronic inactive OM. We reviewed 462 microscopic slides from 263 patients with suspected OM, and for each slide, we determined an algorithm-derived diagnosis, which was then used to calculate a total histopathologic load score (Jupiter score). Algorithm-derived diagnoses recapitulated original clinical diagnoses and diagnosed cases as OM that had not been originally diagnoses. These novel cases were more likely to have subsequent clinical complications. Finally, pathologic load scores were assessed for association with the category of OM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-85
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Foot and Ankle Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • 2
  • diagnosis
  • diagnostics
  • histopathology
  • infection
  • involucrum
  • neutrophil
  • osteomyelitis
  • periosteal reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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