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Treatment of haematogenous pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis by single-stage anterior debridement, grafting of the defect and posterior instrumentation

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Anterior debridement, grafting of the defect and posterior instrumentation as a single-stage procedure is a controversial method of managing pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis. Between 1994 and 2005, 37 patients underwent this procedure at our hospital, of which two died and three had inadequate follow-up. The remaining 32 were reviewed for a mean of 36 months (12 to 66). Their mean age was 48 years (17 to 68). A significant pre-operative neurological deficit was present in 13 patients (41%). The mean duration of surgery was 285 minutes (240 to 360) and the mean blood loss was 900 ml (300 to 1600). Pyogenic organisms were isolated in 21 patients (66%). All patients began to mobilise on the second post-operative day. The mean hospital stay was 13.6 days (10 to 20). Appropriate antibiotics were administered for 10 to 12 weeks. Early wound infection occurred in four patients (12.5%), and late infection in two (6.3%).

At final follow-up, the infection had resolved in all patients, neurological recovery was seen in ten of 13 (76.9%) and interbody fusion had occurred in 30 (94%). The clinical outcome was excellent or good in 30 patients according to Macnab’s criteria.

This surgical protocol can be used to good effect in patients with pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis when combined with appropriate antibiotic therapy.

Correspondence should be sent to Professor G. D. Sundararaj; e-mail: ortho1@cmcvellore.ac.in

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