Pyogenic spondylodiscitis is a form of spinal infection that can result in severe back pain and even death. However, information is lacking on the relative effectiveness of various therapies. A retrospective chart review was conducted to investigate whether early surgical treatment of pyogenic spondylodiscitis coupled with intravenous antibiotics results in better patient prognoses than intravenous antibiotics therapy alone.
All patients treated for pyogenic spondylodiscitis at a single medical center from July 2006 to July 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. The inclusion criteria consisted of diagnosis of an early stage infection without neurological deficit, and patients without severe sepsis who were suitable candidates for early surgery as determined by a Pittsburgh bacteremia score < 4, and patients with delayed diagnosis and lost to outpatient follow-up were excluded. Clinical outcomes included patient demographic data, kyphosis angle, length of treatment, Oswestry Disability Index and visual analogue pain scale were analyzed.
Of 90 enrolled patients, Group 1 (n = 47) received only antibiotic therapy and Group 2 (n = 43) received early surgery with post-surgery antibiotics for 2 to 4 weeks. Group 2 exhibited significantly better results than Group 1 for mean antibiotic administration period, mean hospitalization period, kyphotic angle correction. Of 61 patients who participated in telephone follow-up after discharge, Group 2 (n = 26) had significant lower mean ODI score, and mean back pain score than Group 1 (n = 35).
While infection control was similar for both groups, patients treated with early surgery and antibiotics were hospitalized for fewer days and required less antibiotics than those treated with antibiotics alone, also having better functional outcomes. In short, early surgical treatment of pyogenic spondylodiscitis typically achieves a better prognosis, shorter hospitalization period, and subsequent significant improvement in kyphotic deformity and quality of life.