Spinal epidural abscess: Current diagnosis and management

Gustavo Pradilla, Yasunori Nagahama, Adam M. Spivak, Ali Bydon, Daniele Rigamonti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is an uncommon condition that warrants urgent diagnosis and treatment, because early pharmacotherapy significantly improves prognosis and prompt surgical decompression is often necessary to prevent or minimize neurologic complications. Increased awareness is critical; any of the characteristic clinical findings, especially in the presence of risk factors and elevated inflammatory markers, should lead to heightened suspicion for SEAs and its consideration on differential diagnosis, even in the absence of neurologic deficits. A multidisciplinary approach is essential for successful management of SEAs; along with infectious disease specialists and neurosurgeons/orthopedic spine surgeons, primary care, emergency medicine, and internal medicine clinicians are more likely to see patients with SEAs at earlier stages and play a pivotal role in early diagnosis and treatment. A combination of targeted antibiotic therapy and prompt surgical decompression is recommended in most cases, although medical management alone can be effective in select patients under close monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-491
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Infectious Disease Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Diskitis
  • Epidural infection
  • Pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis
  • Spinal abscess
  • Spinal cord compression
  • Spinal epidural abscess
  • Spinal infection
  • Spondylodiskitis
  • Vertebral osteomyelitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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