Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Bacterial abscesses involving the spinal canal are associated with a high morbidity and mortality. Most frequently, these lesions are found in the epidural, rarely in the subdural space. In this report, our clinical material consists of a series of 16 patients treated during the last seven years. The clinical presentation included local neurological signs (back pain, para-/tetraparesis, bladder dysfunction), disturbances of consciousness (ranging from drowsiness to deep coma) and general inflammatory signs (meningism, fever). All patients presented with risk factors (septic foci, chronic diseases, and iatrogenic causes). Laboratory investigations revealed typically pathological blood sedimentation rate, leucocytosis and CSF-pleocytosis. Radiologically, the diagnosis was confirmed by myelography, CT and preferably MRI. The abscesses were located epidurally in 14 and subdurally in 2 cases. The surgical treatment included laminectomy, or multiple flavectomies in extensive lesions. Drainage systems (either simple silicon outflow drains or suction-/irrigation systems) were installed in all cases, as well as antibiotic treatment. Results of treatment: Following an observation period of 0,5–6 years, we found complete recovery in six (38%) cases, six (38%) others were mildly disabled and four (25%) patients died. Focussing on the results of the two different drainage systems, we found a statistically significant superiority of the inflow-/outflow system. Complications included mandatory re-exploration, post-inflammatory hydrocephalus, syringomyelia, spinal instability, surgical treatment of peripheral septic foci and therapy resistant septicaemia. In conclusion, we propose that spinal epi-or subdural abscesses require surgical evacuation, using a suction-/irrigation drainage system, as well as antibiotic and intensive care treatment.
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