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Bacterial Infections of the Spine

Topic Overview

Bacterial infections of the spine are rare but can include infection of:

  • The discs (discitis).
  • The spinal cord (usually an infection of the tissue covering the spinal cord, called an epidural abscess).
  • One or more vertebrae (osteomyelitis).
  • The facet joints, which may be the site of infectious arthritis.

Bacteria that infect the spine usually originate in other parts of the body and are carried to the spine through the bloodstream. But bacteria can enter the spine directly during surgery or injection treatments, as the result of injury, or as a result of IV drug use.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last Revised December 14, 2011

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