Depp’s Daughter Recovering from Rusty Nail Infection
The Associated Press is reporting that Johnny Depp’s 7-year-old daughter with longterm partner Vanessa Paradis is “doing much better” after a nine day hospital stay in London.
Several articles report that Lilly Rose was originally admitted for “blood poisoning” after stepping on a rusty nail at Depp’s country home.
We decipher “blood poisoning” to mean bacterial infection disseminated to the blood causing a sepsis like picture. And considering the circumstances, i.e. rusty nail, one would have to assume that the offending bug would be Clostridium tetani, or tetanus. Or is it?
Actually, probably not. While more than 90% of pedal puncture wounds result from stepping on a nail. The most common organisms implicated in penetrating wounds are Staph aureus, beta-hemolytic streptococci, and then various anaerobic bacteria. Also, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is often responsible for infection when the injury is due to object penetration through shoes and socks.
Importantly, puncture wounds have the capability to infect deep spaces of the foot, including bones, joints, tendons, and deep fascia, and serious complications can arise. Therefore, the depth of penetration is hugely important.
The signs of more extensive injury are those typical of any infection, i.e. redness, warmth, pain, and swelling. If the offending object is still partly in there, e.g. broken glass or sea shell, it must be removed and the wound must be extensively debrided. Empiric ABx should be started to cover the most common bugs, i.e. S. aureus but anti-pseduomonals should be strongly considered as psudomonal osteomyelitis/-chondritis can be catastrophic.
It is our suspicion that Depp’s daughter probably was treated inadequately or conservatively at first or perhaps even his the injury from her parents as kids can do and then presented 2-3 days after the injury with a warm, red, swollen foot. Imaging studies were performed for sure which included plain old x-rays to look for air and possibly a CT. CBC, Chem, and ESR were quite important in documenting infection and blood cultures were probably being sent every time the little one spiked a fever.
When she manifested systemic evidence of infection, broad spectrum IV antibiotics were certainly started and the wound was opened, any pus was removed, and the wound was most likely left open to heal on its own rather than sew it shut again.
Typically, in systemic bacterial infection, i.e. bacteria in the blood (bacteremia) patients will experience signs of sepsis: hypotension, tachycardia, fever, increased WBC. In addition to stroing anti-microbial therapy, IV fluids were probably used and maybe even pressors for blood pressure support.
This is a very scary situation for a little girl and her parents. We are happy to hear that she is out of the hospital and recovering. An interesting infectious disease topic nevertheless which proves our mantra: It sucks to be an interesting patient, but it’s great to have an uneventful recovery.
Baldwin G, Colbourne M: Puncture wounds. Pediatr Rev 1999 Jan; 20(1): 21-3[Medline].
Patzakis MJ, Wilkins J, Brien WW, Carter VS: Wound site as a predictor of complications following deep nail punctures to the foot. West J Med 1989 May; 150(5): 545-7[Medline].