Iatrogenic pyogenic osteomyelitis of C-1 and C-2 treated with transoral decompression and delayed posterior occipitocervical arthrodesis. Case report

J Neurosurg Spine. 2007 Dec;7(6):664-8. doi: 10.3171/SPI-07/12/664.


The authors describe a case of osteomyelitis of the craniocervical junction caused by iatrogenic infection of the spine during corticosteroid injection therapy. This 58-year-old diabetic man presented with acute exacerbation of neck pain that had began 4 months prior to admission. He did not experience the associated fever, chills, or sweats, but he did notice transient weakness in the right upper extremity. A computed tomography (CT) scan of the cervical spine demonstrated a destructive process involving the odontoid and the left occipitocervical and atlantoaxial joints that was not present on a CT obtained 2 months earlier, just before trigger-point and left-sided C1-2 facet joint corticosteroid injections. A diagnosis of staphylococcal osteomyelitis was made, and initial treatment with external immobilization and appropriate antibiotic therapy failed to control radiographically demonstrated and clinical progression. The patient was successfully treated using staged anterior decompression and posterior instrumented fusion with prolonged antibiotic therapy. To the authors' knowledge this case is the first reported instance of iatrogenic pyogenic osteomyelitis of the craniocervical junction successfully treated with anterior decompression and delayed posterior arthrodesis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Arthrodesis*
  • Atlanto-Axial Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease*
  • Injections, Spinal / adverse effects
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth / surgery
  • Occipital Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Occipital Bone / pathology
  • Occipital Bone / surgery*
  • Osteomyelitis / diagnosis
  • Osteomyelitis / microbiology
  • Osteomyelitis / surgery*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / etiology
  • Suppuration
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones