Bone & joints

Topic Completed: 1 March 2013

Minor changes: 30 July 2020

Copyright: 2002-2019,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Infectious arthritis spondylodiskitis

Vijay Shankar, M.D.
Page views in 2019: 1,775
Page views in 2020 to date: 1,415
Cite this page: Shankar V. Spondylodiskitis. website. Accessed September 30th, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Inflammation of intervertebral disk tissue and adjacent vertebrae, which are normally resistant to infection due to avascularity
  • Usually associated with back pain (since involves lumbar segments), ages 50+ years, male predominance
  • Spondylodiskitis commonly involves lumbar (45%), thoracic (35%), and cervical (10 - 20%) spine; causes secondary epidural abscess most commonly in cervical spine, also thoracic and lumbar spine
  • Increased frequency of diagnosis due to magnetic resonance imaging
  • Most cases are due to pyogenic organisms (Staph, Strep); also Candida, Aspergillus, Cryptococcus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis; rarely Enterococcus
  • Culture usually positive (78%), special stains are usually negative
Radiology images

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Destruction of vertebral bodies and disk tissue

Case reports
Gross images

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Intervertebral disc
(top center) destroyed
by vertebral abscess

Spinal cord compressed by abscess

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Vascularization, myxoid degeneration, necrosis of disk, chronic osteomyelitis
  • Variable acute osteomyelitis (25%), granulation tissue
  • Tuberculous infection has caseating granulomas
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Fig. G & H: inflammatory cells and bacteria

C. tropicalis

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