Which imaging study is useful in the workup of deep soft tissue infection associated with sepsis/septic shock?

Updated: Oct 07, 2020
  • Author: Andre Kalil, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Answer

When clinical evidence of a deep soft tissue infection exists, such as crepitus, bullae, hemorrhage, or foul-smelling exudate, obtain a plain radiograph. The presence of soft-tissue gas often dictates surgical exploration.

Although either CT or MRI may reveal evidence of subcutaneous and deep-tissue inflammation, neither modality is sensitive or specific in the setting of necrotizing deep-tissue infection, and neither should be relied upon to make this diagnosis. MRI is much more sensitive for osteomyelitis than plain radiography is.


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