Chronic osteomyelitis in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Long-term health consequences of warfare

Vol 5 | Issue 1 | Jan-April 2019 | page:14 -16  |Katherine O. Ryken, Semin Becirbegovic, Ismet Gavrankopetanovic, J Lawrence Marsh, Marin Schweizer.

Author: Katherine O. Ryken [1], Semin Becirbegovic [2], Ismet Gavrankopetanovic [2], J Lawrence Marsh [1], Marin Schweizer [1]

1 Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA
2 Department of Orthopedics&Traumatology, University of Sarajevo ClinicalCenter, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Address of Correspondence
Dr. Katherine O. Ryken,
University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA


Introduction: Chronic osteomyelitis (COM) is a severely debilitating disease, causing both physical and psychological repercussions for patients. It is particularly common in austere environments and areas of armed conflict. 1,2,3 The most common cause across all age groups is neglected penetrating wounds.4 Often overlooked, COM is one of the many lasting health effects of warfare. Deep infections of the bone following penetrating and blast injuries are common in regions plagued by conflict and cause major physical and social disability.
Materials & Methods: Patient records at the University of Sarajevo Clinical Center Department of Orthopedics & Traumatology were analyzed retrospectively between 2003 and 2013 of patients hospitalized with diagnosed COM.
Results: 155 patients were hospitalized at UCCS for the treatment of chronic osteomyelitis between 2003-2013. Mean age of patients at the time of hospitalization was 56 years. The most common medical comorbidity of patients was diabetes mellitus type 2. Unemployment among patients was 46.1%. The most common cause of COM in this cohort was intentional injury associated with the war between the years of 1992-1995 (46.2%). These were caused by sniper or gunshot wounds (25.4%), landmines or unexploded ordnance (37.7%), and mortar shell explosions (28.8%). The mean hospital stay among patients with COM at UCCS was 31.10 days, although this varied widely depending upon the severity of symptoms and the type of treatment required.
Conclusion: The health burden of chronic osteomyelitis persists for many years beyond the original. Chronic pain and disability contribute to a lifetime of repeated treatments, hospital stays, and high rates of unemployment. This study describes the current burden of COM upon the population of Sarajevo, as well as serving as a foreboding prediction of what can be expected in war zones for many years in the future.
Keywords: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo, chronic osteomyelitis, war injuries, orthopedics, infectious disease, social medicine.


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How to Cite this article:  Ryken K O, Becirbegovic S, Gavrankopetanovic I, Marsh J L, Schweizer M. Chronic osteomyelitis in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Long-term health consequences of warfare. Trauma International May – Aug 2019;5(1):14-16.


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