Surgical Treatment with Thoracic Pedicle Screw Fixation of Vertebral Osteomyelitis with Long-Term Follow-up

Robert F. Heary, Nitin Agarwal, Prateek Agarwal, Ira M. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: While recent data has demonstrated the utility of lumbar pedicle screws for the treatment of vertebral osteomyelitis, the data are limited for thoracic pedicle screws. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effectiveness of thoracic pedicle screws for the surgical treatment of vertebral osteomyelitis. METHODS: A retrospective review of all operations performed by 2 spinal neurosurgeons from 1999 to 2012 yielded 30 cases of vertebral osteomyelitis that were treated with thoracic pedicle screws. Sixteen (53%) of which underwent combined anterior and posterior fusion and 14 patients (47%) underwent standalone posterior fusion. Postoperative records were analyzed for pertinent clinical, laboratory, and radiographic data. RESULTS: Of the 30 patients, 21 were males (70%), 8 were females (27%), and 1 was transsexual (3%). The mean age was 47 yr (range 18-69). The most common organism cultured was Staphylococcus aureus in 12 cases (50%). The mean patient stay in the hospital was 12.4 d after surgery (range 5-38 d). The mean antibiotic duration after discharge was 8 wk (range 1-24 wk). Of the 25 patients with long-term follow-up (mean, 49 mo), 92% had improved back pain (6/25 marked improvement, 17/25 complete resolution), 83% had improved muscle weakness (8/18 marked improvement, 7/18 complete resolution), and 100% had improved urinary incontinence (3/8 marked improvement, 5/8 complete resolution). Two patients (7%) required additional surgical revision due to instrumentation failure or wound infection. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates the efficacy of utilizing thoracic pedicle screws as a primary intervention to treat vertebral osteomyelitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-451
Number of pages9
JournalOperative Neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Pedicle screw
  • Thoracic spine
  • Vertebral osteomyelitis


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