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Unexpectedly rapid decrease in the size of a spinal epidural abscess after percutaneous posterior pedicle screw fixation without decompression surgery: a case report

Abstract

Introduction

Spondylodiscitis accompanying spinal epidural abscess is often treated with decompression surgery when there are neurological symptoms. We report a case of spondylodiscitis accompanying spinal epidural abscess with severe lower extremity pain that was successfully treated with percutaneous posterior pedicle screw fixation without decompression surgery.

Case presentation

A 53-year-old man was admitted to our hospital with severe low back pain (LBP), lower extremity pain and numbness, and fever. Lumbar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed spondylodiscitis at L2–L3 and a small epidural abscess located ventrally in the spinal canal. Initially, the patient was treated conservatively with empirical antibiotics. However, the lower extremity symptoms worsened and the epidural abscess expanded cranially to the T12 level. Percutaneous pedicle screw fixation without decompression was performed thirty-three days after admission. Postoperatively, the LBP and lower extremity pain dramatically improved. A postoperative MRI performed one week post-operatively showed an unexpectedly rapid decrease in the size of the epidural abscess, although no decompression surgery was performed. Two months after surgery, the epidural abscess completely disappeared. At the final follow-up (five years postoperatively), no recurrence of epidural abscess was observed, and the patient had no symptoms or disturbance of activities of daily living.

Discussion

This surgical strategy should be carefully selected for patients with spondylodiscitis with accompanying spinal epidural abscess who have lower extremity symptoms. The stabilising effect of pedicle screw fixation may be advantageous for controlling spinal infections. Percutaneous posterior pedicle screw fixation without decompression is an optional treatment for spondylodiscitis accompanying spinal epidural abscess.

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Fig. 1: Pre- and postoperative radiographs.
Fig. 2: Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lumbar spine.
Fig. 3: Pre- and postoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of lumbar spine.
Fig. 4: Pre- and postoperative computed tomography (CT) images.
Fig. 5: Postoperative radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of lumbar spine.

Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Correspondence to Yasuchika Aoki.

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Kubota, G., Aoki, Y., Sato, Y. et al. Unexpectedly rapid decrease in the size of a spinal epidural abscess after percutaneous posterior pedicle screw fixation without decompression surgery: a case report. Spinal Cord Ser Cases 8, 77 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41394-022-00543-5

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