Infection as a cause of spinal cord compression: A review of 36 spinal epidural abscess cases

Akalan N., Ozgen T.

ACTA NEUROCHIRURGICA, vol.142, no.1, pp.17-23, 2000 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 142 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2000
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s007010050002
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.17-23
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


A retrospective survey of 36 cases treated in the Department of Neurosurgery, Hacettepe University Hospitals since 1970 was performed. Clinical presentation, aetiology and outcome of this rare disease compared to recently published series. All cases were admitted with signs of neural compression. Clinical and laboratory data suggesting an infectious origin were present only in 4 cases. Radiological investigation including magnetic resonance imaging in 10 patients, were not confirmative for an epidural abscess except for two cases. All cases underwent urgent surgical decompression and tuberculous abscess either in granulation or pus form was found in the majority. Overall mortality rate was 5.8%. Outcome was closely related to the neurological condition on admission rather than the underlying infectious origin. When compared with recently reported series, our cases demonstrated a significant divergence in terms of clinical presentation, pathogenesis and outcome. The most probable reason for this discrepancy is that risk factors for compromised immunity or systemic infection were much less than the other series and mycobacterium tuberculosis is the responsible agent in the majority which has a much more favourable outcome than non-specific infections.