Dealing with Chronic Non-Bacterial Osteomyelitis: A practical approach

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Background: Chronic Non-Bacterial Osteomyelitis (CNO) is an inflammatory disorder that primarily affects children. Although underestimated, its incidence is rare. For these reasons, no diagnostic and no therapeutic guidelines exist. The manuscript wants to give some suggestions on how to deal with these patients in the every-day clinical practice. Main body: CNO is characterized by insidious onset of bone pain with local swelling. Systemic symptoms such as fever, skin involvement and arthritis may be sometimes present. Radiological findings are suggestive for osteomyelitis, in particular if multiple sites are involved. CNO predominantly affects metaphyses of long bones, but clavicle and mandible, even if rare localizations of the disease, are very consistent with CNO diagnosis. CNO pathogenesis is still unknown, but recent findings highlighted the crucial role of cytokines such as IL-1β and IL-10 in disease pathogenesis. Moreover, the presence of non-bacterial osteomyelitis among autoinflammatory syndromes suggests that CNO could be considered an autoinflammatory disease itself. Differential diagnosis includes infections, malignancies, benign bone tumors, metabolic disorders and other autoinflammatory disorders. Radiologic findings, either with Magnetic Resonance or with Computer Scan, may be very suggestive. For this reason in patients in good clinical conditions, with multifocal localization and very consistent radiological findings bone biopsy could be avoided. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are the first-choice treatment. Corticosteroids, methotrexate, bisphosphonates, TNFα-inhibitors and IL-1 blockers have also been used with some benefit; but the choice of the second line treatment depends on bone lesions localizations, presence of systemic features and patients' clinical conditions. Conclusion: CNO may be difficult to identify and no consensus exist on diagnosis and treatment. Multifocal bone lesions with characteristic radiological findings are very suggestive of CNO. No data exist on best treatment option after Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs failure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number87
JournalPediatric Rheumatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 29 2017


  • Anti-TNFα treatment
  • Autoinflammatory syndrome
  • Bisphosphonate
  • Chronic Non-Bacterial Osteomyelitis
  • Chronic recurrent multifocal Osteomyelitis
  • Magnetic resonance
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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