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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Global Spine Journal.

Volume 8, Issue 4_suppl, 1 December 2018, Pages 59S-67S.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1177/2192568218772048

Copyright © The Author(s) 2018

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work as published without adaptation or alteration, without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (


Study Design: Systematic analysis and review.

Objective: Evaluation of the presentation, etiology, management strategies (including both surgical and nonsurgical options), and neurological functional outcomes in patients with cervical spinal epidural abscess (SEA).

Methods: The PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) criteria were used to create a framework based on which articles pertaining to cervical SEA were chosen for review following a search of the Ovid and PubMed databases using the search terms "epidural abscess" and "cervical." Included studies needed to have at least 4 patients aged 18 years or older, and to have been published within the past 20 years.

Results: Database searches yielded 521 potential articles in PubMed and 974 potential articles in Ovid. After review, 11 studies were ultimately identified for inclusion in this systematic review. Surgery appears to be a well-tolerated management strategy with limited complications for patients with cervical SEA. However, the quantity of data comparing medical and surgical treatment of cervical SEA is limited and the bulk of the data is derived from low quality studies.

Conclusion: Data reporting was heterogeneous among studies making it difficult to draw discrete conclusions. Early surgical intervention may be appropriate in selected patients with cervical epidural abscess, but it is not clear what distinguishes these patients from those who are successfully managed nonoperatively.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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