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Intern Med J. 2009 Dec;39(12):845-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2009.02052.x.

Spontaneous spinal infections in older people.

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Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Back pain is common in the elderly. Spinal infection is a rare, but possibly increasing, cause. We describe a retrospective case note review of 41 patients aged 65 years and over with spontaneous spinal infections over a 6-year period. The incidence was 9.8/100,000/year. Staphylococcus aureus was the most common isolate. The mean time from symptom onset to diagnosis was 34 days. Most patients presented with back pain and elevated CRP. Differentiation between discitis and other spinal infections does not appear to be important, as clinical characteristics and outcomes are similar.

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