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J Neurosurg. 2001 Jul;95(1 Suppl):33-9.

Clinical presentation, radiological findings, and treatment results of coccidioidomycosis involving the spine: report on 23 cases.

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Division of Neurosurgery, Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield, California 93305, USA.



This study was conducted to review the presentation and management of patients with coccidioidomycosis involving the spine.


The authors reviewed 23 cases of spinal coccidioidomycosis treated at their institutions. There were 20 males and three females who ranged in age from 9 to 62 years. Non-Caucasian individuals were disproportionately represented. Spinal disease was the first manifestation of disseminated coccidioidomycosis in 10 cases. Thirteen patients with meningitis, soft-tissue involvement, or pulmonary involvement developed new spinal lesions despite undergoing continued systemic therapy with amphotericin and/or fluconazole. In all patients computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging studies demonstrated preferential involvement of the disc spaces, vertebral bodies, and pedicles with extensive paravertebral phlegmons and retropharyngeal, mediastinal, or psoas abscesses. Despite the significant imaging findings, only four patients presented with a significant neurological deficit. Local pain or radiculopathy was the most common complaint. Twenty patients underwent invasive therapy. In five patients with prominent psoas abscesses and disc space disease, drainage was performed after inserting a percutaneous catheter. Progressive bone destruction necessitated debridement and fusion in one of these patients, and two others had poor outcomes after receiving antifungal therapy alone. Initially 15 patients underwent debridement and fusion in which instrumentation (10 cases) or bone graft alone was used (five cases). One patient worsened neurologically after surgery, and another patient required reoperation for a failed fusion and to correct progressive kyphosis. Four of the 23 patients died of complications related to fungemia. Most of the 15 surviving patients have required long-term antifungal therapy for spinal and extraspinal foci.


Spinal coccidioidomycosis can be an aggressive disease process. Systemic antifungal therapy fails to prevent de novo spinal involvement and is usually insufficient treatment for established spinal disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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