Infection and malignancy often have common characteristics which render the differential diagnosis for a prolonged fever difficult. Imaging and tissue biopsy are crucial in making a correct diagnosis, though differentiating between chronic osteomyelitis and malignancy is not always straightforward as they possess many overlapping features.A 52-year-old Caucasian man was treated with antibiotics for his diabetic foot infection after a superficial culture showed Staphylococcus aureus. He had persistent fevers for several weeks and later developed acute onset of back pain which was treated with several courses of antibiotics. Radiographic and pathological findings were atypical, and a diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma was made 12 weeks later.Clinicians should maintain a suspicion for Hodgkin's lymphoma or other occult malignancy when features of presumed osteomyelitis are atypical. Chronic vertebral osteomyelitis in particular often lacks features common to acute infectious disease processes, and the chronic lymphocytic infiltrates seen on histopathology have very similar features to Hodgkin's lymphoma, highlighting a similar inflammatory microenvironment sustained by both processes.
View details for DOI 10.1186/1752-1947-4-102
View details for PubMedID 20370895