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BACKGROUND: We describe the management of osteomyelitis of the cervical spine, utilizing internal fixation with subsequent removal and culture of the implants. Four out of five patients had evidence of bacterial colonisation in close proximity to the internal fixation device. METHODS: Five consecutive patients (all female, ranging in age from 50 to 74 yrs) presenting with unstable cervical osteomyelitis were treated by surgical decompression, primary internal fixation followed by three months of intravenous antibiotics. The internal fixation was removed in 4 out of 5 cases within a year of stopping the intravenous regime. The remaining patient was deemed medically unfit for further operation. Multiple specimens from the screw sites were taken at the time of metal removal. A final course of oral antibiotics was prescribed based on the results of these specimens. FINDINGS: Four patients, who had removal of the implants, had positive cultures growing different bacteria from the primary infection, at the time of removal of the implant. None of the patients developed instability after removal of the implant. INTERPRETATION: Asymptomatic bacterial colonisation of a metallic implant has profound management implications. We recommend long-term oral antibiotic regimes after insertion of internal fixation devices in the face of infection and eventual removal of these implants and microbiological re-sampling.

Original publication

DOI

10.1007/s00701-003-0129-8

Type

Journal article

Journal

Acta neurochirurgica

Publication Date

11/2003

Volume

145

Pages

957 - 960

Addresses

Department of Neurosurgery, Oxford Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.

Keywords

Cervical Vertebrae, Humans, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Osteomyelitis, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Device Removal, Spinal Fusion, Internal Fixators, Time Factors, Aged, Middle Aged, Female