Spinal infection with intraspinal abscess or empyema and acute myelopathy: comparative analysis of diagnostics, therapy, complications and outcome in primary care

Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg. 2022 Jun 3. doi: 10.1007/s00068-022-02001-1. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: This study on pyogenic spinal infections with intraspinal epidural involvement (PSI +) compared the outcome of patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) to those without (noSCI) taking diagnostic algorithm, therapy, and complications into account.

METHODS: Patients were enrolled in an ambispective study (2012-2017). Diagnostic and therapeutic algorithms, complications, and neurological outcome were analyzed descriptively. Survival was analyzed applying Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression.

RESULTS: In total, 134 patients with a median (IQR) age of 72 (61-79) years were analyzed. Baseline characteristics were similar between the SCI (n = 55) and noSCI (n = 79). A higher percentage of endocarditis (9% vs. 0%; p = 0.03) was detected in the noSCI group. The majority (81%) received combinatorial therapy including spinal surgery and antibiotic treatment. The surgery complication rate was 16%. At discharge, improvement in neurologic function was present in 27% of the SCI patients. Length of stay, duration of ventilation and the burden of disease-associated complications were significantly higher in the SCI group (e.g., urinary tract infection, pressure ulcers). Lethality risk factors were age (HR 1.09, 95% CI 1.02-1.16, p = 0.014), and empyema/abscess extension (≥ 3 infected spinal segments, HR 4.72, 95% CI 1.57-14.20, p = 0.006), dominating over additional effects of Charlson comorbidity index, SCI, and type of treatment. The overall lethality rate was 11%.

CONCLUSION: PSI + are associated with higher in-hospital mortality, particularly when multiple spinal segments are involved. However, survival is similar with (SCI) or without myelopathy (noSCI). If SCI develops, the rate of disease complications is higher and early specialized SCI care might be substantial to reduce complication rates.

PMID:35657387 | DOI:10.1007/s00068-022-02001-1