I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

2021 Apr 09




Epidural Abscess: A Cause of Back Pain That Must Not Be Missed.


Egídio de Sousa I, Brito Monteiro M, Piteira M, Cuco A, Telles Freitas P
Cureus. 2021 Apr 09; 13(4):e14376.
PMID: 34079646.


Low back and cervical pain are common emergency department complaints. Most cases represent low-risk pathologies but in rare cases, it can be a symptom of a serious underlying disease and the distinction can be challenging. A case is reported of a 58-year-old male with recurrent cervical pain requiring several emergency department visits. He eventually presented with intense cervical and low back pain, tetraparesis, and dyspnea. His condition deteriorated in less than 24 hours, evolving with fever, shock, and respiratory insufficiency and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for aminergic support, invasive mechanical ventilation and started on empiric antibiotics. Investigations revealed raised inflammatory markers and a cervical pre-vertebral purulent collection associated with an epidural collection at the level of C2 to C5 with spinal cord compression. The patient underwent transoral drainage and removal of the posterior C1 arch along with C2-C3-C4-C5 laminectomy. Staphylococcus aureus was isolated in the blood, pus, and bone. Re-intervention was required due to persistent pre-vertebral abscesses with clinical improvement thereafter. Eight weeks of antibiotic treatment were completed in total. The patient was discharged after 72 days of hospitalization with significant improvement in force and autonomy. Epidural abscess is a rare finding that can cause rapid irreversible neurological deterioration. Clinical suspicion must be high for an early diagnosis and treatment, essential for a better prognosis.