Placement of instrumentation in the setting of a spinal infection has always been controversial. Although the use of allograft and autograft bone has been accepted as safe, demonstrations of the effectiveness of titanium have been speculative, based on several retrospective reviews. The authors' goal in this study was to demonstrate the effectiveness of instrumentation in the setting of a spinal infection by retrospectively reviewing their cases over the last 4 years and searching the literature regarding instrumentation in patients with pyogenic spinal infections.
The authors conducted a retrospective review of their cumulative data on spinal infections. Diagnosis was based on subjective and objective clinical findings, along with radiographic and laboratory evaluation of infection and mechanical stability. Patients with medically managed disease and those who did not receive instrumentation were eliminated from this review.
Of 105 patients with spinal infections who were admitted to the neurosurgical service between January 2000 and June 2004, 30 underwent surgical debridement necessitating spinal instrumentation. There were 17 women and 13 men in this group ranging from 28 to 86 years of age. Follow-up duration ranged from 3 to 54 months. There was one death, which occurred 3 months postsurgery. In three patients a deep wound infection developed, necessitating intervention, and two patients experienced a graft expulsion. Twenty-nine patients went on to demonstrate adequate fusion based on follow-up neuroimaging studies.
The goal of neurosurgical intervention in the setting of spinal infection is to obtain an organism culture and the debridement of infection while maintaining neurological and mechanical stability. The authors demonstrate the effectiveness of radical debridement of infected bone and placement of instrumentation in patients with spinal infections.