Musculoskeletal coccidioidomycosis

Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2011 Nov;15(5):511-26. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1293497. Epub 2011 Nov 11.


Coccidioidomycosis (valley fever) is a systemic fungal infection caused by soil fungi, Coccidioides species, and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. This infection is endemic in northern Mexico, the southwestern United States, and parts of Central and South America. The risk factors include ethnicity (especially African and Pacific Island ancestry), male gender, and immunosuppression. The primary infection occurs in lungs, but fewer than 40% of patients are symptomatic. Fewer than 1% of infections result in disseminated disease, which may involve any organ. Skeletal infection occurs in 10 to 50% of these patients and is frequently multicentric with axial skeleton involvement. The diagnosis can be confirmed by culture of the organism or visual detection from cytological or histological specimens obtained from sites of disease. A presumptive diagnosis can be made in patients with a compatible illness and a positive serologic test. Imaging plays a significant role in diagnosis and follow-up treatment of musculoskeletal coccidioidomycosis and includes radiography, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and bone scintigraphy. Skeletal coccidioidomycosis is difficult to treat and frequently requires a combination of medical therapy and surgical debridement. Medical therapy must be continued for a prolonged period of time, potentially for a lifetime in some patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central America / epidemiology
  • Coccidioidomycosis / diagnosis*
  • Coccidioidomycosis / epidemiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Humans
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • South America / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology