Facet joint injection is considered to be a safe procedure. There have been some reported cases of facet joint pyogenic infection and also 3 cases of facet joint infection spreading to paraspinal muscle and epidural space due to intra-articular injections. To the author's knowledge, paraspinal and epidural abscesses after facet joint injection without facet joint pyogenic infection have not been reported. Here we report a case in which extra-articular facet joint injection resulted in paraspinal and epidural abscesses without facet joint infection. A 50-year-old man presenting with acute back pain and fever was admitted to the hospital. He had the history of diabetes mellitus and had undergone the extra-articular facet joint injection due to a facet joint syndrome diagnosis at a private clinic 5 days earlier. Physical examination showed tenderness over the paraspinal region. Magnetic resonance image (MRI) demonstrated the paraspinal abscess around the fourth and fifth spinous processes with an additional epidural abscess compressing the thecal sac. The facet joints were preserved. The laboratory results showed a white blood cell count of 14.9 × 109 per liter, an erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 52mm/hour, and 10.88mg/dL of C-reactive protein. Laminectomy and drainage were performed. The pus was found in the paraspinal muscles, which was communicated with the epidural space through a hole in the ligamentum flavum. Cultures grew Staphylococcus aureus. Paraspinal abscess communicated with epidural abscess is a rare complication of extra-articular facet joint injection demonstrating an abscess formation after an invasive procedure near the spine is highly possible.
Complication; infection; injection; facet joint
Pyogenic arthritis of lumber spinal facet joints is an extremely rare condition. There are only 40 reported cases worldwide. Most cases were associated with history of paravertebral injection, which was not found in our patient. At the time of hospital admission, he had no abnormal magnetic resonance image findings. Two weeks later, he developed pyogenic facet joint arthritis associated with paravertebral and epidural abscess. This report is the first to describe delayed presentation of pyogenic arthritis associated with paravertebral abscess and epidural infection.
Zygapophyseal joint; Pyogenic arthritis; Lumbar spine
The natural history of uncomplicated hematogenous pyogenic spondylodiscitis is self-limiting healing. However, a variable degree of bone destruction frequently occurs, predisposing the spine to painful kyphosis. Delayed treatment may result in serious neurologic complications. Early debridement of these infections by percutaneous transpedicular discectomy can accelerate the natural process of healing and prevent progression to bone destruction and epidural abscess. The purpose of this manuscript is to present our technique of percutaneous transpedicular discectomy (PTD), to revisit this minimally invasive surgical technique with stricter patient selection, and to exclude cases of extensive vertebral body destruction with kyphosis and neurocompression by epidural abscess, infected disc herniation, and foraminal stenosis. In a previously published report of 28 unselected patients with primary hematogenous pyogenic spondylodiscitis, the immediate relief of pain after PTD was 75%, and in the longterm follow-up, the success rate was 68%. Applying stricter patient selection criteria in a second series of six patients (five with primary hematogenous spondylodiscitis and one with secondary postlaminectomydiscectomy spondylodiscitis), all patients with primary hematogenous spondylodiskitis (5/5) experienced immediate relief of pain that remained sustained at 12–18 months follow-up. This procedure was not very effective, however, in the patient who suffered from postlaminectomy infection. This lack of response was attributed to postlaminectomydiscitis instability. The immediate success rate after surgery for unselected patients in this combined series of 34 patients was 76%. This technique can be impressively effective and the results sustained when applied in the early stages of uncomplicated spondylodiscitis and contraindicated in the presence of instability, kyphosis from bone destruction, and neurological deficit. The special point of this procedure is a minimally invasive technique with high diagnostic and therapeutic effectiveness.
Percutaneous transpedicular discectomy; Primary hematogenous pyogenic spondylodiscitis
Facet joints have been shown to be a source of chronic low back pain, and it is generally accepted in clinical practice that diagnostic and therapeutic facet joint injections are the most reliable technique for the treatment of facet joint pain, which is considered to be an easy and safe procedure. Serious complications and side effects are uncommon after facet joint injection. However, infectious complications including septic arthritis, epidural abscess, meningitis and endocarditis have been reported following facet joint injections. We report here the first case of death following lumbar facet joint injection due to generalized infection.
Abscess; Facet joint; Infection; Low back pain
Prevention of complications is one of the most important aspects of patient care in pain management. The objective of this study is to review documented complications in medical literature that are associated with interventional pain management, specifically those associated with joint, tendon, and muscle injections. We conducted Medline research from 1966 to November 2006 using keywords complication, injection, radiofrequency, closed claim, facet, zygophyseal joint, sacroiliac joint, shoulder, hip, knee, carpel tunnel, bursa, and trigger point. We found over 35 relevant papers in forms of original articles, case reports, and reviews. The most common complications appear to be infections that have been associated with virtually all of these injections. These infections include spondylodiscitis, septic arthritis, epidural abscess, necrotizing fasciitis, osteomyelitis, gas gangrene, and albicans arthritis. Other complications include spinal cord injury and peripheral nerve injuries, pneumothorax, air embolism, pain or swelling at the site of injection, chemical meningism, granulomatous inflammation of the synovium, aseptic acute arthritis, embolia cutis medicamentosa, skeletal muscle toxicity, and tendon and fascial ruptures. We suggest that many of the infectious complications may be preventable by strict adherence to aseptic techniques and that some of the other complications may be minimized by refining the procedural techniques with a clear understanding of the relevant anatomies.
A 55-year-old obese man (body mass index, 31.6 kg/m2) presented radiating pain and motor weakness in the left leg. Magnetic resonance imaging showed an epidural mass posterior to the L5 vertebral body, which was isosignal to subcutaneous fat and it asymmetrically compressed the left side of the cauda equina and the exiting left L5 nerve root on the axial T1 weighted images. Severe arthritis of the left facet joint and edema of the bone marrow regarding the left pedicle were also found. As far as we know, there have been no reports concerning a solitary epidural lipoma combined with ipsilateral facet arthorsis causing lumbar radiculopathy. Solitary epidural lipoma with ipsilateral facet arthritis causing lumbar radiculopathy was removed after the failure of conservative treatment. After decompression, the neurologic deficit was relieved. At a 2 year follow-up, motor weakness had completely recovered and the patient was satisfied with the result. We recommend that a solitary epidural lipoma causing neurologic deficit should be excised at the time of diagnosis.
Solitary epidural lipoma; Posterior facet; Ipsilateral arthritis; Lumbar radiculopathy
Sacral epidural abscesses are rare infections, often managed with open surgery, especially in the presence of acute neurological symptoms. We report a novel approach for minimally invasive drainage of sacral epidural abscesses.
A 51-year-old man presented to the emergency department complaining of low back pain, generalized muscle pain, pain across several large joints, low-grade fever, and weakness of both legs for ten days. MRI of the patient's lumbosacral spine showed osteomyelitis involving his L5, S1 vertebrae, L5-S1 discitis, as well as anterior and posterior epidural abscesses extending from L5-S1 disc space to the S2 vertebral level. Under CT fluoroscopic guidance a 20-gauge spinal needle was inserted into the sacral hiatus, parallel to the pelvic surface of the sacral canal, and directed cranially. A 0.18-gauge microwire was then advanced through the 20-gauge needle. The 20-gauge needle was exchanged over the guidewire for an 18-gauge blunt tipped needle which was curved to approximate the contours of the sacral canal. The curved needle was inserted through the sacral hiatus with its concavity initially facing upwards, and then rotated 180° to gain access to epidural abscess.
Once anatomic access was established 5cc of thick purulent material was evacuated. The patient tolerated the procedure well, and no focal nerve root symptoms were noted following the procedure.
Image guided aspiration of sacral epidural abscesses can be carried out in a safe and effective manner using CT fluoroscopy. Aspiration of these abscesses combined with intravenous antibiotics may be an alternative to open surgery in select patients.
sacral abscess, osteomielitis, spine, percutaneous drainage
A 40-year-old female patient presented with persistent severe back pain radiating to the right leg, abdominal pain and constipation. Other clinical symptoms included nausea, vomiting and high-grade fever. Clinical examination showed generalised abdominal and lower back tenderness. There was no sensory loss or motor weakness in lower limbs, however investigations showed raised inflammatory markers. Radiographs of the lumbar spine and hip joint were normal. MRI revealed a septic arthritis of the right L3/4 facet joint, associated with a large abscess extending anteriorly to the right paraspinal muscles and posteriorly into the right posterolateral aspect of the epidural space in the central spinal canal, with moderate compression of the dural sac. Unlike any other reported similar case, this septic arthritis developed without prior medical intervention. The patient was treated successfully with ultrasound guided drainage of the facet joint/abscess and antibiotics.
Intervertebral disk herniation is relatively common. Migration usually occurs in the ventral epidural space; rarely, disks migrate to the dorsal epidural space due to the natural anatomical barriers of the thecal sac.
A 49-year-old man presented with 1 week of severe back pain with bilateral radiculopathy to the lateral aspect of his lower extremities and weakness of the ankle dorsiflexors and toe extensors. Lumbar spine magnetic resonance imaging with gadolinium revealed a peripheral enhancing dorsal epidural lesion with severe compression of the thecal sac. Initial differential diagnosis included spontaneous hematoma, synovial cyst, and epidural abscess. Posterior lumbar decompression was performed; intraoperatively, the lesion was identified as a large herniated disk fragment.
Dorsal migration of a herniated intervertebral disk is rare and may be difficult to definitively diagnose preoperatively. Dorsal disk migration may present in a variety of clinical scenarios and, as in this case, may mimic other epidural lesions on magnetic resonance imaging.
Vertebral disk, herniation; Back pain, radiculopathy; Abscess, epidural; Hematoma, epidural; Laminectomy; Decompression, lumbar
Pyogenic spondylodiscitis represents a potentially life-threatening condition. Due to the low incidence, evidence-based surgical recommendations in the literature are equivocal, and the treatment modalities remain controversial.
A 59 year-old patient presented with a history of thoracic spondylodiscitis resistant to antibiotic treatment for 6 weeks, progressive severe back pain, and a new onset of bilateral lower extremity weakness. Clinically, the patient showed a deteriorating spastic paraparesis of her lower extremities. An emergent MRI revealed a kyphotic wedge compression fracture at T7/T8 with significant spinal cord compression, paravertebral and epidural abscess, and signs of myelopathy. The patient underwent surgical debridement with stabilization of the anterior column from T6–T9 using an expandable titanium cage, autologous bone graft, and an anterolateral locking plate. The patient recovered well under adjunctive antibiotic treatment. She presented again to the emergency department 6 months later, secondary to a repeat fall, with acute paraplegia of the lower extremities and radiographic evidence of failure of fixation of the anterior T-spine. She underwent antero-posterior revision fixation with hardware removal, correction of kyphotic malunion, evacuation of a recurrent epidural abscess, decompression of the spinal canal, and 360° fusion from T2–T11. Despite the successful salvage procedure, the patient deteriorated in the postoperative phase, when she developed multiple complications including pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, bacterial meningitis, abdominal compartment syndrome, followed by septic shock with multiple organ failure and a lethal outcome within two weeks after revision surgery.
This catastrophic example of a lethal outcome secondary to failure of anterior column fixation for pyogenic thoracic spondylodiscitis underlines the notion that surgical strategies for the infected spine must be aimed at achieving absolute stability by a 360° fusion. This aggressive – albeit controversial – concept allows for an adequate infection control by adjunctive antibiotics and reduces the imminent risk of a secondary loss of fixation due to compromises in initial fixation techniques.
Candida is a relatively rare cause of spinal infections that commonly affects immunocompromised patients. A 70-year-old woman, who underwent a lumbar discectomy on L5-S1 two months earlier, was admitted to our department complaining of persistent back and leg pain. Magnetic resonance imaging showed irregular enhancing mass lesion in L5-S1 intervertebral space, suggest of pyogenic discitis with epidural abscess. The surgery was performed via retroperitoneal approach and the infected material at L5-S1 intervertebral space was removed. The histological examination of the specimen revealed chronic inflammation involving the bone and soft tissue, and a culture of the excised material was positive for Candida parapsilosis. The patient received intravenous fluconazole for 4 weeks after surgery and oral fluconazole 400 mg/day for 3 months after surgery. The patient made a full recovery with no symptoms 6 months after surgery. We present a rare case of spondylodiscitis after a lumbar discectomy due to Candida parapsilosis and discuss treatment option with a review of the literatures.
Spondylodiscitis; Candida; Fungal infection; Vertebra; Osteomyelitis
A 29-year-old woman presented to the Fondazione IRCCS “Cà Granda” Ospedale Maggiore, a tertiary care university hospital in Milan (Italy), with skin lesions, fever, myalgia, joint pain and swelling, and a one-week history of low back pain. The diagnosis was Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) bacteraemia spreading to skin, bones, and joints and a lumbosacral epidural abscess L5-S2. Neither initial focus nor predisposing conditions were apparent. The antibiotic therapy was prolonged for six-weeks with the resolution of fever, skin lesions, articular inflammation, and the epidural abscess. Community-acquired S. aureus infections can affect patients without traditional healthcare-associated risk factors, and community acquisition is a risk-factor for the development of complications. Raised awareness of S. aureus bacteraemia, also in patients without healthcare-associated risk factors, is important in the diagnosis, management, and control of this infection, because failure to recognise patients with serious infection and lack of understanding of empirical antimicrobial selection are associated with a high mortality rate in otherwise healthy people.
Lumbosacral epidural abscesses are managed either conservatively with IV antibiotics or with open surgery, particularly in the presence of acute neurological symptoms. Their location makes it difficult for image-guided interventional approaches either for biopsy or evacuation. We report the sacral hiatus and canal as a corridor for image-guided minimally invasive abscess of lumbosacral epidural abscess for aspiration. A 56-year-old man presented to the emergency department complaining of six weeks of worsening low back pain. MRI of the patient’s lumbosacral spine showed osteomyelitis involving his L5, S1 vertebrae, L5-S1 discitis, as well as an anterior epidural abscess extending from L4-5 disc space to the S2 vertebral level. Blood cultures grew out gram-positive cocci. For drainage, a 5-French micropuncture kit was utilized to access the hiatus. Under fluoroscopic guidance a microwire was then advanced along the sacral canal. An 18-gauge needle curved to approximate the contours of the sacral canal was then advanced over the guidewire. Once anatomic access was established 2 ml of thick purulent material was aspirated. The patient tolerated the procedure well, and no focal nerve root symptoms were noted following the procedure. Image-guided aspiration of lumbosacral epidural abscesses can thus be carried out in a safe and effective manner using a sacral hiatus approach.
sacral epidural abscess, sacral hiatus, needle drainage, image guidance, fluoroscopy
To describe a spinal epidural abscess that originated from cellulitis after moxibustion.
A 78-year-old woman with diabetes mellitus was diagnosed with tetraplegia due to a cervical spinal epidural abscess extending to the thoracic spinal epidural space. The abscess was caused by osteomyelitis and cellulitis of the right third finger, which had been cauterized repeatedly with moxa. After surgical decompression and drainage of the spinal epidural abscess and comprehensive rehabilitation, motor strength and functional level improved.
This case illustrates the risk of spinal epidural abscess in persons with diabetes mellitus who present with focal cellulitis and osteomyelitis.
Spinal cord injuries; Tetraplegia; Spinal epidural abscess; Moxa; Moxibustion; Diabetes mellitus; Cellulitis; Osteomyelitis; Oriental medicine; Group B Streptococcus
Cervical spinal epidural abscess, caused by fish bone injury and a secondary infection by Eikenella Corrodens which is part of the normal flora, has not been reported. A 72-yr-old man came to the hospital with pain in his posterior neck and both shoulders for 2 months. He also was experiencing weakness on his right side for 3 days. A fish bone had been stuck in his throat for about 2 months. Neurological examination revealed right hemiparesis, hypesthesia on the left extremities and neck stiffness. Laboratory findings showed an elevated ESR/CRP and leukocytosis, and magnetic resonance imaging revealed a retropharyngeal abscess and cervical myelitis. The patient was treated with emergency surgical decompression and antibiotics. A fish bone was removed from the C3-C4 intervertebral disc space. In the culture of chocolate blood agar and 5% sheep blood agar plate, E. corrodens was detected as a causative organism.
Eikenella Corrodens; Fish Bone; Spinal Epidural Abscess
We report a case of “dry tap” during spinal anaesthesia in a patient posted for incision and drainage of lower limb with cellulitis. When the patient was being given sub-arachnoid block (SAB) for regional anaesthesia, it turned out to be a case of pyogenic ilio-psoas abscess extended up to the paravertebral and epidural spaces. The causative organism was Staphylococcus aureus. This is probably the first case reported when epidural abscess is diagnosed during SAB.
Dry tap; epidural abscess; spinal anaesthesia; sub-arachnoid block
We report a case of cervical epidural abscess from Enterococcus faecalis, which caused an insidious onset of tetraparesis. This 53-year-old female with a history of diabetes mellitus and chronic renal failure under hemodialysis presented with pain and progressive weakness of upper and lower extremities without fever. Although a recent MRI she did at the beginning of symptoms showed no significant pathologies, except for a cervical disc herniation and adjacent spinal degeneration, and stenosis that confused the diagnostic procedure, newer imaging with CT and MRI, which was performed due to progression of tetraparesis, revealed the formation of a cervical epidural abscess. Surgical drainage was done after a complete infection workup. The patient showed immediate neurological improvement after surgery. She received antibiotics intravenously for 3 weeks and orally for another 6 weeks. The patient was free from complications 24 months after surgery. A high index of suspicion is most important in making a rapid and correct diagnosis of spinal epidural abscess. The classic clinical triad (fever, local pain, and neurologic deficits) is not sensitive enough for early detection. Continuous clinical, laboratory, and imaging monitoring are of paramount importance. Early diagnosis and surgical intervention could optimize the final functional outcome.
Spinal epidural abscess is a rare but potentially fatal condition if left untreated. We report the case of a 67-year old man who presented to the Accident and Emergency department complaining of acute onset of inter-scapular back pain, left leg weakness and loss of sensation in the left foot. On examination he was found to be pyrexial with long tract signs in the left lower leg. In addition he had a left sided olecranon bursitis of three weeks duration. Blood tests revealed raised inflammatory markers and a staphylococcal bacteremia. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) confirmed the diagnosis of spinal epidural abscess and he subsequently underwent a three level laminectomy with good resolution of his back pain and neurological symptoms. He has made a complete recovery with a prolonged course of intravenous antibiotics.
spinal epidural abscess; olecranon bursitis; Staphylococcus aureus.
Pyogenic epidural abscess is a very rare disease. Once it occurs, it promptly progresses and can cause neurologic paralysis. Mean age of onset has been reported to be 57 years. Here we report making a diagnosis of pyogenic lumbar epidural abscess accompanying cauda equina syndrome in a 10-year-old girl. We treated this case successfully with surgical drainage and antibiotics. We report our case with a review of the literature.
Lumbar epidural abscess; Couda equina syndrome
A 67 year old man with longstanding rheumatoid disease was referred to the regional spinal surgery unit with acute onset of paraparesis due to an extensive spinal epidural abscess of the lumbar spine. Ten months previously, he had started antibiotic treatment at another hospital for an epidural abscess arising at the level of the L2-3 disc space. Despite completing seven months of medical treatment with appropriate antibiotics, he had a recrudescence of acute back pain shortly after restarting methotrexate treatment. Urgent anterior spinal decompression with excision of the necrotic vertebral bodies of L1-3 was performed. The indications for the surgical management of spinal epidural abscess are reviewed.
Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is responsible for a broad range of infections. We report the case of a 46-year-old gentleman with a history of untreated, uncomplicated Hepatitis C who presented with a 2-month history of back pain and was found to have abscesses in his psoas and right paraspinal muscles with subsequent lumbar spine osteomyelitis. Despite drainage and appropriate antibiotic management the patient's clinical condition deteriorated and he developed new upper extremity weakness and sensory deficits on physical exam. Repeat imaging showed new, severe compression of the spinal cord and cauda equina from C1 to the sacrum by a spinal epidural abscess. After surgical intervention and continued medical therapy, the patient recovered completely. This case illustrates a case of CA-MRSA pyomyositis that progressed to lumbar osteomyelitis and a spinal epidural abscess extending the entire length of the spinal canal.
A 61-year-old male patient with pyogenic spondylodiscitis and epidural and psoas abscesses underwent posterior decompression, debridement, and instrumented fusion, followed by anterior debridement and reconstruction. Sudden onset flank pain was diagnosed 7 weeks postoperatively and was determined to be a pseudoaneurysm located at the aorta inferior to the renal artery and superior to the aortic bifurcation area. An endovascular stent graft was applied to successfully treat the pseudoaneurysm. Postoperative recovery was uneventful and infection status was stabilized.
False aneurysm; Endovascular procedure; Stents; Spondylitis
Mycobacterium abscessus is a member of the Rapidly Growing Mycobacterium (RGM). The incidence of Mycobacterium abscessus infections has steadily been increasing over the last decade. We report the case of an epidural abscess caused by Mycobacterium abscessus. RGM’s have infrequently been reported as spinal infections and we found no prior cases reporting M. abscessus as the definitive etiologic agent of an epidural abscess.
A 50 year old female presented with significant back pain and was found to have an epidural abscess by magnetic resonance imaging. The abscess was drained via needle. Initial cultures were negative for bacterial pathogens, and the patient was discharged to a skilled nursing facility for empiric antibiotic treatment. Eventually the culture grew Mycobacterium abscessus. The patient had unfortunately left the nursing facility and was lost to follow up.
Mycobacterium abscessus is an increasingly recognized pathogen with particular risk factors that physicians should be aware of. Central nervous system infections are rare, but do occur. Treatment is difficult, though multiple antibiotic regimens have been reported successful. Surgical debridement is often needed.
Mycobacterium abscessus; epidural abscess; osteomyelitis
Facet joint septic arthritis is a rare but severe infection with the possibility of significant morbidity resulting from local or systemic spread of the infection. Pain is the most common complaint on presentation followed by fever, then neurologic impairment. While the lumbar spine is involved in the vast majority of cases presented in the literature, the case presented here occurred in the cervical spine. The patient presented with a three week history of neck and left shoulder pain and was diagnosed by MRI when his pain did not respond to analgesics and muscle relaxants. The only predisposing factor was a history of diabetes mellitus and the infection most likely resulted from hematogenous spread. MRI is highly sensitive in diagnosing septic arthritis and it is the preferred modality for demonstrating the extent of infection and secondary complications including epidural and paraspinal abscesses as seen in this case. Without familiarity with this entity's predisposing factors, clinical symptoms and appropriate lab/ imaging work up, many patients experience a delay in diagnosis. Treatment involves long term parenteral antibiotics or percutaneous drainage. Surgical debridement is reserved for cases with severe neurologic impairment. The incidence of facet joint septic arthritis is increasing likely related to patient factors (increasing number of patients >50 yo, immunosuppressed patients, etc), advancement in imaging technology, availability of MRI, and heightened awareness of this rare infection which is the aim of this case presentation.
Spinal epidural abscess (SEA) in children is a rare infectious emergency warranting prompt intervention. Predisposing factors include immunosuppression, spinal procedures, and local site infections such as vertebral osteomyelitis and paraspinal abscess. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common isolate.
Case report and literature review.
A 2.5-year-old boy with tetraparesis was found to have an SEA in the posterior lumbar epidural space with evidence of meningitis and myelitis on MRI spine in the absence of any local or systemic predisposing factors or spinal procedures. Streptococcus pneumoniae was isolated from the evacuated pus.
Definitive treatment of SEA is a combination of surgical decompression and iv antibiotics. Timely management limits the extent of neurological deficit.
Spinal epidural abscess; Tetraparesis; Streptococcus pneumonia; Myelitis; Meningitis; Paralysis