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Anesth Analg. 2002 Feb;94(2):415-6, table of contents.

Discitis associated with pregnancy and spinal anesthesia.

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Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachussetts.


Discitis (inflammation of the intervertebral disk) most commonly develops as a rare complication of bacterial infection or chemical or mechanical irritation during spine surgery (1) with a postoperative incidence of 1%-2.8% (2). It is also a complication of discography-the intradiscal injection of saline or contrast material (3). The incidence of postdiscography discitis is 1%-4% (3); no cases have been reported when prophylactic antibiotics have been used, supporting the theory of bacterial contamination (3). Although it is controversial whether discitis can be caused by an aseptic or infectious process, recent data suggest that persistent discitis is almost always bacterial (4). Honan et al. (5) reported 16 cases of spontaneous discitis and reviewed another 52 patients from the literature. In their series, patients tended to have one or more comorbid conditions, such as diabetes, vertebral fracture, or a preexisting spine injury. Spontaneous discitis has also been associated with advanced age, IV drug abuse, IV access contamination, urinary tract infection, and immunocompromised states (5,6). No cases of infectious discitis associated with pregnancy and spinal anesthesia have been reported in the English literature. Discitis presents as spasmodic pain in the back that may be referred to the hips or groin (7). The pain may radiate to the lower extremities. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate is usually increased. Radiological changes in discitis include narrowing of the intervertebral disk space, vertebral sclerosis, and erosion of the end plates. The best diagnostic measure may be magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a combination of bone and gallium scanning (2). The mainstay for discitis treatment is pain control and antibiotics; surgical intervention is usually not required. Complications of discitis include intervertebral fusion, epidural abscess, and paralysis.


This is a case report of a disk infection (discitis) caused by the bacteria, Streptococcus bovis after spinal anesthesia for cesarean delivery. S. bovis rarely causes discitis, and spinal anesthesia for labor and delivery has not been reported as a cause of discitis.

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