Pressure ulcers in elderly individuals can cause significant morbidity and mortality and are a major economic burden to the health care system. Prevention should be the ultimate objective of pressure ulcer care, and it requires an understanding of the pathophysiology leading to pressure ulcers and the means of reducing both intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors. Clinical manifestations are protean, and early recognition requires a low threshold of suspicion. Clinical examination often underestimates the degree of deep-tissue involvement, and its findings are inadequate for the detection of associated osteomyelitis. Microbiological data, if obtained from deep-tissue biopsy, are useful for directing antimicrobial therapy, but they are insufficient as the sole criterion for the diagnosis of infection. Imaging studies, such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, are useful, but bone biopsy and histopathological evaluation remain the "gold standard" for the detection of osteomyelitis. The goals of treatment of pressure ulcers should be resolution of infection, promotion of wound healing, and establishment of effective infection control.
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