Vertebral osteomyelitis is rare in children. The lumbar spine is the most commonly involved region. Vertebral osteomyelitis occurs more frequently in the vertebral body, and involvement of posterior element is rare. Vertebral osteomyelitis results from hematogenous seeding, spread from contiguous infections, and direct inoculation from spinal surgery. Initial symptoms include low back pain, difficulty standing, limping gait, and fever. Blood cultures should be obtained for children with vertebral osteomyelitis because it is the definite guide for providing accurate treatment. Computed tomography-guided abscess aspiration should be considered for patients with negative blood cultures. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common microorganism in vertebral osteomyelitis, and the incidence of methicillin-resistant S aureus has increased in recent years. Plain radiographs, bone scintigraphy, and magnetic resonance imaging are useful for making the diagnosis. Antimicrobial therapy for 6 weeks is usually successful, and an early transition to oral form does not increase the risk of treatment failure. Debridement with implant removal is required, especially for late-onset infections associated with previous spinal surgery. Vertebral osteomyelitis can cause motor weakness and paralysis. Because of the involvement of spinal development, spinal deformities, including scoliosis and loss of normal lumbar lordosis, should be a concern in pediatric patients. Early diagnosis and adequate treatment for vertebral osteomyelitis are important to prevent severe complications and lifelong disabilities. This article describes the case of a 14-year-old boy with spontaneous lumbar vertebral osteomyelitis who initially presented with low back pain and was successfully treated nonoperatively.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine