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Nonoperative Management of a Multi-Regional Epidural Abscess with Neurological Dysfunction

Maire-Clare Killen, MbChB, MRCS,1 Miguel Hernandez, MD,1 Andrew Berg, MMBS MRCS, 2 Chandra Bhatia MS(orth), MChOrth1

1Spinal Unit, University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton-on-Tees, 2Pennine Acute NHS Trust

Abstract

Spinal epidural abscesses are uncommon, but their incidence is increasing. They represent a collection of purulent material in the epidural space and most commonly occur in the lumbar spine, where they remain localised.

Abscesses that affect all three spinal levels (holospinal or multiregional abscesses) are extremely rare, with only a few cases published in the literature.

Epidural abscesses are particularly high risk infections as progressive neurological dysfunction can occur rapidly; early diagnosis and treatment is therefore essential to avoid long term neurological complications and reduce potential mortality.

Given the uncommon nature of this condition, the treatment remains controversial with no definitive guidance on conservative versus surgical management. The literature mostly recommends surgical decompression along with intravenous antibiotics in patients with neurological abnormalities.

We describe a case of a 77-year-old patient presenting with a delayed diagnosis of a multi-regional epidural abscess with associated upper motor neurone signs. The patient was successfully treated nonoperatively with a course of antibiotics resulting in complete radiological resolution of the abscess and full neurological recovery.

keywords: 
Epidural, abscess, multi-regional, nonoperative
Volume 9 Article 47
doi: 
10.14444/2047