A systematic review: characteristics, complications and treatment of spondylodiscitis

L Gentile, F Benazzo, F De Rosa, S Boriani, G Dallagiacoma, G Franceschetti, M Gaeta, F Cuzzocrea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: This systematic review focuses on 5 key elements that may improve the decision-making process in spondylodiscitis: the infective agent, segmental instability, abscess development, neurological compromise and focus of infection. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We included 64 studies published between May 2012 and May 2017, that reported both a description of the discitis and comparative data regarding the disease and its complications. RESULTS: The majority of cases were caused by Staphylococcus spp (40.3%) and involved the lumbosacral region (52.3%). 27.8% of cases were associated to neurological compromise, 30.4% developed an abscess, 6.6% were associated to instability, and 54.7% underwent surgery. The abscesses mostly involved the lumbosacral region (60.4%) with paravertebral localization; 32.6% of cases involved the thoracic region, showing mostly epidural localization; a small number of cases (7%) involved the cervical region, mostly with epidural localization. 95% of paravertebral abscesses were treated percutaneously, while 85.7% of epidural cases underwent "open" surgery. Spinal cord compression mainly occurred in the cervical region (55.9%), neurological deficit was observed in over half of cases (65%), and surgery was required in most of the cases (83.9%). The majority of cases of instability involved the lumbosacral region (53.3%) and underwent surgery (87%). The focus of infection was mostly lumbosacral (61%) and almost all cases (95%) were treated surgically. CONCLUSIONS: Spondylodiscitis is a complex and multifactorial disease, whose diagnosis and management are still challenging. Due to its potential morbidity, it is extremely important to investigate the 5 key elements discussed in this paper in order to provide an early diagnosis and initiate the most effective treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-128
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number2 Suppl
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


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