After an IV, an inflammation traveled from above elbow to wrist in spite of oral antibiotics. Diagnosis?

One dr. said cellulitis and another was stumped. What condition moves away from the heart like this? It’s red and sore, tender to the touch and a little warm. Do you think it will work its way out once it gets to my fingertip?

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  1. Tonks, 10 July, 2010

    I would probably agree with the doctor that said cellulitis. It’s an odd presentation of cellulitis since it’s moving from your elbow to your wrist, but the tender, red and warm symptoms, especially since it was associated with an IV do sound like cellulitis. I would say that you probably need to continue your cycle of antibiotics, and they might need you to go on a cycle of stronger antibiotics. I don’t think it will "work it’s way out" once it gets to your fingertips, because cellulitis is caused by a bacterial infection, and the only way to get rid of it is by the use of antibiotics.

  2. formerly_bob, 10 July, 2010

    Kind of a mystery – its good that it is not spreading toward the heart. If a doc suspects cellulitis, and it has not responded to an oral antibiotic, they should be either giving you a stronger antibiotic cocktail – intravenously, or take a blood or tissue sample to identify the source of the infection (or if it is actually an infection), and then give the appropriate drug. Time is critical in treating cellulitis, so make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle because of the Christmas holiday. The infection will not work itself by traveling down the arm. If it travels down the arm, that means it is spreading.

    If you do not have a fever, you may not have cellulitis. Its possible that the IV contained something (like a preservative or pH buffer) that is causing an inflammatory reaction.

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