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Osteomyelitis is the medical term for a bone infection, which is usually caused by bacteria. This week’s specimen is of a tibia from a male aged 31 years. In summer 1814, aged 17 years, whilst sailing in the Baltic, he fell on deck with his leg doubled under him. After seeing a surgeon who recommended rubbing a liniment on it, he fell again when in Riga and was conveyed to the hospital for six weeks where he was told the bones below the knee were splintered.

By 1817 swelling on the tibia had increased and an incision was made by a surgeon in Dundee to relieve pressure. A little pus was discharged, but soon healed up. The following year, an opening had formed where the incision had been made, however the sore continued to open discharging a bloody serum.

As the swelling increased in size he fitted a wood and tow plug to assist washing out the cavity and preventing the discharge. Draining of the cavity was carried out daily until the limb was eventually amputated in 1831, 14 years after the initial injury.

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