[Skip to Navigation]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
February 1988

Vertebral Osteomyelitis Presenting as Spinal Compression Fracture: Six Patients With Underlying Osteoporosis

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Infectious Diseases (Drs McHenry, Keys, and Rehm), Radiology (Dr Duchesneau), and Orthopedic Surgery (Dr Boumphrey), The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(2):417-423. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380020161021

• Six patients with osteoporosis had vertebral osteomyelitis (VO) with infection of a single vertebra that presented with a collapsed vertebral body, thought to be a simple compression fracture. The resulting delay in correctly diagnosing VO was associated with disabling sequelae in a high proportion of cases. This distinctive presentation accounted for 13% of all hospitalized patients with VO and 2.4% of inpatients with osteoporotic compression fractures during the last five years; It may be more common than suggested by the paucity of published cases. In patients with osteoporosis and vertebral compression fractures, osteomyelitis should be considered when there is severe back pain, persistent unexplained fever, unexplained elevation of the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, or bacteremia without an obvious extravertebral focus of infection, particularly if the patient is immunocompromised. Early biopsy and culture of the collapsed vertebral body will facilitate diagnosis and therapy.

(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:417-423)