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The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 93-B, Issue 8 | Pages 1122 - 1125
1 Aug 2011
Chandrasenan J Klezl Z Bommireddy R Calthorpe D

We retrospectively reviewed the records of 16 children treated for spondylodiscitis at our hospital between 2000 and 2007. The mean follow-up was 24 months (12 to 38). There was a mean delay in diagnosis in hospital of 25 days in the ten children aged less than 24 months. At presentation only five of the 16 children presented with localising signs and symptoms. Common presenting symptoms were a refusal to walk or sit in nine children, unexplained fever in six, irritability in five, and limping in four. Plain radiography showed changes in only seven children. The ESR was the most useful investigation when following the clinical course of the disease. Positive blood cultures were obtained in seven children with Staphylococcus aureus being isolated in five. Antibiotics were used in 14 children and spinal bracing in six. Children with spondylodiscitis often present with a confusing clinical picture leading to late diagnosis.

The early use of MRI in the investigation of children with an atypical picture may avoid unnecessary delay in starting treatment and possibly prevent long-term problems. All except one of our children had made a complete clinical recovery at final follow-up. However, all six children in the > 24-month age group showed radiological evidence of degenerative changes which might cause problems in the future.