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Papers of the Week

2022 May




A Novel Construct to Treat Destructive Osteomyelitis of the Lumbar Spine in a Patient With Pre-existing Paraplegia.


Treatment for vertebral osteomyelitis varies depending on the extent of pathology and includes both medical and surgical approaches. Pathogen-directed antibiotic therapy is often the first-line treatment, however, refractory cases or those with sepsis, segmental instability, or epidural abscess may be candidates for surgical treatment. Patients with extensive bony destruction often require a corpectomy with the placement of a cage for anterior column reconstruction. In this case report, we describe a patient with a complex past medical history, including paraplegia secondary to a spinal cord infarct, chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and decubitus ulcers who presented with increasing back pain and imaging demonstrating vertebral osteomyelitis and diskitis with associated epidural abscess extending from L1-L4 vertebral bodies and significant osseous destruction of the L3 and L5 vertebral bodies. A multistage surgical approach was performed involving an initial laminectomy, wound wash-out, and bony debridement followed by an additional wound wash-out and then a posterior approach for corpectomy and graft placement accomplished by tying off the thecal sac. In rare cases where patients present with complete neurologic injury and extensive destructive osteomyelitis, a posterior approach for corpectomy and stabilization may be an option.