Use of Novel Strategies to Develop Guidelines for Management of Pyogenic Osteomyelitis in Adults: A WikiGuidelines Group Consensus Statement

Brad Spellberg, Gloria Aggrey, Meghan B. Brennan, Brent Footer, Graeme Forrest, Fergus Hamilton, Emi Minejima, Jessica Moore, Jaimo Ahn, Michael Angarone, Robert M. Centor, Kartikeya Cherabuddi, Jennifer Curran, Kusha Davar, Joshua Davis, Mei Qin Dong, Bassam Ghanem, Doug Hutcheon, Philipp Jent, Minji KangRachael Lee, Emily G. McDonald, Andrew M. Morris, Rebecca Reece, Ilan S. Schwartz, Miranda So, Steven Tong, Christopher Tucker, Noah Wald-Dickler, Erica J. Weinstein, Riley Williams, Christina Yen, Shiwei Zhou, Todd C. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Importance: Traditional approaches to practice guidelines frequently result in dissociation between strength of recommendation and quality of evidence.

Objective: To construct a clinical guideline for pyogenic osteomyelitis management, with a new standard of evidence to resolve the gap between strength of recommendation and quality of evidence, through the use of a novel open access approach utilizing social media tools. 

Evidence Review: This consensus statement and systematic review study used a novel approach from the WikiGuidelines Group, an open access collaborative research project, to construct clinical guidelines for pyogenic osteomyelitis. In June 2021 and February 2022, authors recruited via social media conducted multiple PubMed literature searches, including all years and languages, regarding osteomyelitis management; criteria for article quality and inclusion were specified in the group's charter. The GRADE system for evaluating evidence was not used based on previously published concerns regarding the potential dissociation between strength of recommendation and quality of evidence. Instead, the charter required that clear recommendations be made only when reproducible, prospective, controlled studies provided hypothesis-confirming evidence. In the absence of such data, clinical reviews were drafted to discuss pros and cons of care choices. Both clear recommendations and clinical reviews were planned with the intention to be regularly updated as new data become available. 

Findings: Sixty-three participants with diverse expertise from 8 countries developed the group's charter and its first guideline on pyogenic osteomyelitis. These participants included both nonacademic and academic physicians and pharmacists specializing in general internal medicine or hospital medicine, infectious diseases, orthopedic surgery, pharmacology, and medical microbiology. Of the 7 questions addressed in the guideline, 2 clear recommendations were offered for the use of oral antibiotic therapy and the duration of therapy. In addition, 5 clinical reviews were authored addressing diagnosis, approaches to osteomyelitis underlying a pressure ulcer, timing for the administration of empirical therapy, specific antimicrobial options (including empirical regimens, use of antimicrobials targeting resistant pathogens, the role of bone penetration, and the use of rifampin as adjunctive therapy), and the role of biomarkers and imaging to assess responses to therapy. 

Conclusions and Relevance: The WikiGuidelines approach offers a novel methodology for clinical guideline development that precludes recommendations based on low-quality data or opinion. The primary limitation is the need for more rigorous clinical investigations, enabling additional clear recommendations for clinical questions currently unresolved by high-quality data..

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2211321
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number5
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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