Spinal Infection

Spinal infections can occur in the vertebrae , discs and spinal canal. They can cause destruction of the spine, resulting in instability and neurological damage.

Signs and symptoms

Common symptoms of spinal infections include:

  • Persistent back pain, especially at night
  • Back stiffness and difficulty with movement
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Low-grade fever, chills or night sweats
  • Fatigue

Potential causes

Spinal infections are often the result of an infection elsewhere in the body that travels to the spine through the bloodstream. These infections can be caused by bacterial infection, fungus or tuberculosis.


Diagnosis of a spinal infection starts with a physical exam and medical history. Other procedures and tests may be needed to diagnose an infection, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), x-rays and blood tests that are used to determine if an infection is present.

Treatment options

  • Biopsy and aspiration
  • Antibiotics
  • Laminectomy and drainage You will be positioned face down on a padded frame/bed. By opening the skin and muscle layers the spine is exposed. Either part of the roof (laminotomy) or the entire roof (laminectomy) is removed depending on how much exposure is needed for the operation. The infection is drained. When surgery is done the retractors are removed allowing the muscles to cover the exposed canal and the skin is closed.

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