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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 49S-58S.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1177/2192568218799058

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 literature review.

Objectives: The aims of this study were to (1) describe the clinical features, disabilities, and incidence of neurologic deficits of pyogenic spondylodiscitis prior to treatment and (2) compare the functional outcomes between patients who underwent medical treatment alone or in combination with surgery for pyogenic spondylodiscitis.

Methods: A systematic literature review was performed using PubMed according to PRISMA guidelines. No year restriction was put in place. Statistical analysis of pooled data, when documented in the original report (ie, number of patients with desired variable and number of patients evaluated), was conducted to determine the most common presenting symptoms, incidence of pre- and postoperative neurologic deficits, associated comorbidities, infectious pathogens, approach for surgery when performed, and duration of hospitalization. Outcomes data, including return to work status, resolution of back pain, and functional recovery were also pooled among all studies and surgery-specific studies alone. Meta-analysis of studies with subgroup analysis of pain-free outcome in surgical and medical patients was performed.

Results: Fifty of 1286 studies were included, comprising 4173 patients undergoing either medical treatment alone or in combination with surgery. Back pain was the most common presenting symptom, reported in 91% of patients. Neurologic deficit was noted in 31% of patients.

Conclusion: Medical management remains first-line treatment of infectious pyogenic spondylodiscitis. Surgery may be indicated for progressive pain, persistent infection on imaging, deformity or neurologic deficits. If surgery is required, reported literature shows potential for significant pain reduction, improved neurologic function and a high number of patients returning to a normal functional/work status.

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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