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Brodie's abscess

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Chronic metaphyseal abscess of a bone, occurring as a puss-filled cavity surrounded by a wall of dense fibrous tissue, usually found in the metaphyses of the long bones. Initially asymptomatic (for years). Intermittent pain at end of a long bone (e.g. tibia); possible fever. It consists of necrotic debris and inflammatory cells, sometimes being sterile but in some instances, acting as a reservoir for the bacteria, leading to the development of osteomyelitis. The term was originally used for a tuberculous abscess of the head of the tibia.

Brodie’s patient was a man of 24 who had recurring symptoms in the lower extremity of his right tibia. On examination, Brodie found a pus filled cavity, for which he believed that amputation could be avoided by trephination of that cavity.


  • B. C. Brodie:
    An account of some cases of chronic abscess of the tibia.
    Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, London, 1832, 17: 239-249.

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