Both spontaneous and iatrogenic spondylodiscitis are becoming ever more frequent, yet there are no definite treatment guidelines. For many years the treatment protocol was conservative medical management or surgical debridement with patients immobilized or bedridden for weeks and often resulting in spinal deformity. The eventual development of spinal deformity can be difficult to treat. Over the last few years, the authors have preferred a single-approach instrumented arthrodesis when spondylolysis that evolves in deformity from somatic wedging occurs.
The authors retrospectively reviewed the clinical, radiological, and surgical records of 11 patients treated over the past 3 years for spondylodiscitis with osteosynthesis.
Overall, the authors treated 11 patients: 3 cases with tuberculous spondylodiscitis (1 dorsal, 2 lumbar); 6 cases with Staphylococcus aureus spondylodiscitis (1 cervical, 2 dorsal, 2 lumbar, 1 dorsolumbar); 1 spondylodiscitis with postsurgical lumbar deformity; and in 1 dorsolumbar case the germ was not identified. Surgical approaches were chosen according to spinal level: In 8 dorsolumbar cases a posterior osteosynthesis was achieved. In 1 cervical case an anterior approach was performed with autologous bone graft from iliac crest. In 2 thoracolumbar cases a posterolateral costotransversectomy was needed. In 1 lumbosacral case iliac somatic grafting was used. Ten patients received adequate antibiotic treatment with clinical remission, and 1 case is in initial follow-up. No complications due to instrumentation were recorded. Spinal deformity was prevented in 10 cases, whereas preexisting spinal deformity was partially corrected in 1 case. In all cases, arthrodesis achieved vertebral stability.
This study has the limitations of a retrospective review with a limited number of patients. Instrumentation does not appear to hamper healing from infection. Moreover, spinal stabilization, which is assisted by the infectious process even in the absence of bone graft, allows early mobilization. Instrumented osteosynthesis should be preferred for spondylodiscitis with osteolysis and spinal instability because it allows early mobilization and rehabilitation whenever necessary. It prevents spinal deformity and does not hamper healing of infections.