Bone infection after tailbone removal surgery (coccygectomy)

One complication of surgical tailbone removal (coccygectomy) is that infection may occur at the surgical site.

Part of the reason for the relatively high likelihood of infection at this surgical site (compared with others) is that the  coccygectomy site is so close to the anus.

Superficial infections can happen at the skin, which is called cellulitis.

Much more problematic are deep infections within the remaining bones. Bone infection is called osteomyelitis. When there is an infection within the bone, this can sometimes smolder in the background, unrecognized for many weeks or multiple months. Because the bone is deeper than the skin, it may not be immediately obvious that there is an infection.

Symptoms may include persistent or recurrent fevers, chills, ongoing pain at the site of the bone infection.

Blood work: Medical tests for tailbone infections may include blood work, looking for:

  • elevated white blood cells,
  • elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate [ESR],
  • elevated CRP,
  • etc.

Imaging studies: Medical tests for tailbone infections may also include imaging studies, such as:

  • x-rays,
  • MRI,
  • CT scans,
  • nuclear medicine bone scans,
  • etc.

Treatment typically includes a much more aggressive course of antibiotics, such as:

  • giving the antibiotics intravenously (IV),(instead of by mouth)
  • and giving these antibiotics for several weeks instead of  just for several days.
Regarding complications and side-effects from coccygectomy (surgical removal of the tailbone), please click on the links below:

Patrick Foye, M.D.

Founder and Director at The Tailbone Pain Center
Patrick Foye, M.D.
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4 comments to Bone infection after tailbone removal surgery (coccygectomy)

  • I do not perform coccygectomy (surgical removal of the tailbone) myself, since instead I focus on nonsurgical pain management treatments for tailbone pain.

    However, approximately one out of every 30 or 40 patients who I see for tailbone pain fail to get adequate relief from nonsurgical treatments, and I sometimes do send those select minority of patients for surgical consultation.

    Many do well with surgery, but it is a long recovery time with a high rate of infection and a high rate of need for repeat surgery, and, as both of you have unfortunately discovered some patients do not do well with surgery at all.

    My heart goes out to those who suffer with ongoing pain.

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