Distant skip level discitis and vertebral osteomyelitis after caudal epidural injection: a case report of a rare complication of epidural injections.
Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2003 Jun 1;28(11):E209-11. PMID: 12782996
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore. firstname.lastname@example.org
STUDY DESIGN: A case report of distant discitis and vertebral osteomyelitis involving skip levels after caudal epidural steroid injection. OBJECTIVES: To report and investigate the occurrence of distant infective discitis and vertebral osteomyelitis involving skip levels after epidural injection. SUMMARY OF THE BACKGROUND DATA: Distant discitis and vertebral osteomyelitis is a serious but rare complication after epidural injection. A case involving skip levels and without the occurrence of epidural abscess formation has apparently not been previously reported in the literature. METHODS: An elderly woman presenting with clinical, radiologic, and magnetic resonance imaging evidence of spinal canal stenosis involving L3/4 and L4/5 levels and degenerative spondylolisthesis of the L4/5 level was given an epidural injection of steroids and lignocaine via the caudal route. A month later, she presented with worsened low back pain, elevated serum acute phase reactants, and plain radiographic evidence of L4/5 infective discitis. Magnetic resonance imaging and microbiologic examination of computed tomographically guided biopsy specimens confirmed infective discitis involving L2/3 and L4/5 intervertebral levels, together with adjacent vertebral osteomyelitis. RESULTS: The patient was successfully treated with antibiotics targeted at Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which was isolated in the culture of the biopsy specimens. Follow-up improvements in the clinical condition, serum acute phase reactants levels, radiographs, and magnetic resonance imaging were noted. CONCLUSIONS: Distant discitis and vertebral osteomyelitis involving skip levels and without the occurrence of epidural abscess formation is a serious but rare complication after epidural injection.