Vertebral osteomyelitis and psoas abscess occurring after obstetric epidural anesthesia

Reg Anesth Pain Med. Mar-Apr 2002;27(2):220-4. doi: 10.1053/rapm.2002.28712.


Background and objectives: Back pain and infectious complications occasionally occur after epidural anesthesia in obstetrics, and accurate diagnosis can be difficult. We report a patient who developed low back pain soon after obstetric epidural anesthesia and was diagnosed 6 months later with lumbar vertebral osteomyelitis, discitis, and a psoas abscess.

Case report: A 34-year-old woman developed persistent low back pain after receiving epidural anesthesia for labor analgesia and cesarean delivery. After 6 months, a diagnosis of lumbar vertebral osteomyelitis, discitis, and psoas abscess was made, and surgery was performed. Because of the temporal and anatomical relationships between epidural catheterization and the development of symptoms, the preceding epidural anesthesia was initially suspected as a potential cause. However, because the posterior spinal elements were unaffected and the infectious agent was subsequently identified as tuberculous, the cause was eventually determined as unlikely to be related to the epidural procedure.

Conclusion: Investigation of severe back pain after epidural anesthesia should include consideration of infectious causes, such as vertebral osteomyelitis and discitis, which may not be causally related to the epidural catheterization itself.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, Epidural / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Osteomyelitis / etiology*
  • Psoas Abscess / etiology*
  • Spinal Diseases / etiology*