Your vertebral column (bones), the intervertebral discs, the dural sac (sheath-like covering around the spinal cord) are like other structures in the body, suspect to infection. The contagion may be caused by bacteria or fungal organisms. Spinal infections might take place following surgery or spontaneously in patients with particular risk factors. Patients more susceptible to spinal infections include those with poor nutrition, compromised immunity, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Symptoms of a spinal infection can include fever, chills, headache, neck rigidity, pain, wound soreness and sensitivity, wound drainage. In few cases the patient may notice weakness or a tingling sensation in the arms or legs.
Diagnosing a spinal infection starts with taking a thorough medical history and physical examination. Your physician may order a series of tests to help identify an infection. These tests might comprise of simple X-ray imaging, computerized tomography (CT or CAT scans) or else MRI scans. Further tests may include nuclear medicine bone scans and nuclear medicine tagged white blood cell scans.
The physician will also want to get hold of cultures to find out the type of bacteria or fungus that is causing the infection. You may require a blood test. Cultures from your wound or the area of the infection may also be taken. In circumstances of deep infections of the bone (vertebrae) or intervertebral disc, a needle culture might be needed. This is mostly done with X-ray supervision with local anesthetic medicines given at the needle entrance site.