The value of MRI in the diagnosis of postoperative spondylodiscitis

Neuroradiology. 2000 Aug;42(8):580-5. doi: 10.1007/s002340000361.


We evaluated the role of MRI in the diagnosis of postoperative spondylodiscitis. Spondylodiscitis is a serious complication of surgery, and the diagnosis frequently depends on a combination of clinical, laboratory and imaging findings. We compared the MRI findings in six patients with biopsy- or surgery-proven spondylodiscitis with those in 38 asymptomatic postoperative patients. Contrast enhancement and signal changes in the intervertebral disc or the vertebral endplates are not specific for spondylodiscitis, being also seen in the asymptomatic patients. However, absence of Modic type 1 changes, of contrast enhancement of the disc or of enhancing paravertebral soft tissues suggests that the patient does not have spondylodiscitis. MRI appears more useful for exclusion than for confirmation of postoperative spondylodiscitis.

MeSH terms

  • Discitis / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / pathology*