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The spine is a complicated mechanism that performs many functions. Rarely, it becomes infected with bacteria or fungal organisms and becomes severely compromised in its ability to perform its vital functions. An infection of the spine may occur following surgery that contains risk factors such as the surgical procedure taking a longer time or if it required much instrumentation or if a number of operations were performed in one area. Such infections occur from three days to six months following the operation. The infection may arise spontaneously especially when certain risk factors are present such as poor nutrition, immune suppression, HIV infection, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
A spinal infection may affect the bones of the spine (vertebrae), the discs between the vertebrae, the covering around the spine known as the dural sac, or be within the space around the spinal cord. Symptoms of a spinal infection are similar to those of any other type of infection—fever, chills, headache, pain and weakness—but may also include neck stiffness and tingling or numbness in the arms, hands, legs or feet. Certain types of infections may also include weight loss, difficult or painful urination, and intolerance to light. If an operation has been performed, there may be bruising and the wound may be draining, red or swollen. The symptoms may be severe or quite mild.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Spinal Infections
To diagnose a spinal infection the doctor will perform a physical and thoroughly investigate the possibility of any risk factors. Cultures may be taken and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test may be performed. The MRI can confirm the presence of any infection, determine its extent and also provide information about any effect of the infection on the spinal cord itself. The diagnosis may be of osteomyelitis, discitis, epidural abscess or post operative infection.
Treatment for spinal infections will vary depending on the severity of the infection and the organism causing the infection. The specialists at the Chapman Neurosurgical Spine Institutecan accurately diagnose extent and severity and provide a treatment plan that correctly addresses the exact cause and mitigates any long-term implications.
Contact Chapman Neurosurgical Spine Institute for expert diagnosis and effective treatments for spinal infections arising from surgical procedures or due to complications from other medical conditions.