BACKGROUND : Currently, very limited information is available regarding the economic burdens of patients with extremity post-traumatic osteomyelitis (OM). This study aimed to investigate direct health care costs and utilization for inpatients with extremity post-traumatic OM and analyze its constituent ratios and influencing factors in Southern China. METHODS : We searched in the electronic medical record system for inpatients who had received surgical interventions at our department between 2013 and 2016 for extremity post-traumatic OM. Data of direct health care costs incurred during their hospitalizations were collected in six main categories (service, diagnosis, treatment, materials, pharmaceuticals, and miscellaneous expenses). In addition, data of total medical costs for contemporaneous inpatients with non-post-traumatic OM were also collected as controls. RESULTS : A total of 278 post-traumatic OM and 10,420 controls were included. The median cost for the post-traumatic OM inpatients was $10,504 US dollars, 4.8-fold higher than that for those with non-post-traumatic OM ($2189, P < 0.001). The direct cost in the category of materials accounted for the largest proportion (61%), followed by that in pharmaceuticals (12%) and treatment (11%). The median number of hospital admissions for post-traumatic OM patients was 1 time, with a median length-of-stay of 22 d. The most influencing factors for the health care costs of the post-traumatic OM inpatients were use of an external fixator ($16,016 for those who used versus $4956 for those who did not, P < 0.001), external fixator type ($19,563 for ring fixator versus $14,966 for rail fixator, P < 0.001), infection site ($13,755 for tibia, $14,216 for femur and $5673 for calcaneus, P < 0.001), and infection-associated injury type ($12,890 for infection after open fracture versus $8087 for infection after closed fracture, P = 0.001). CONCLUSIONS : An unexpectedly large proportion of the direct health care costs for inpatients with extremity post-traumatic OM went to cover an external fixator, with expenses for pharmaceuticals and treatment accounting for only a little more than the tenth of the total health care costs. Use of external fixator, external fixator type, infection site, and infection-associated injury type directly influenced the health care costs.