Spinal infections: clinical and imaging features

Top Magn Reson Imaging. 2014 Oct;23(5):303-14. doi: 10.1097/RMR.0000000000000032.


Spinal infections represent a group of rare conditions affecting vertebral bodies, intervertebral discs, paraspinal soft tissues, epidural space, meninges, and spinal cord. The causal factors, clinical presentations, and imaging features are a challenge because the difficulty to differentiate them from other conditions, such as degenerative and inflammatory disorders and spinal neoplasm. They require early recognition because delay diagnosis, imaging, and intervention may have devastating consequences especially in children and the elderly. This article reviews the most common spinal infections, their pathophysiologic, clinical manifestation, and their imaging findings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Diseases, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Bone Diseases, Infectious / microbiology
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Discitis / diagnosis*
  • Discitis / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spondylitis / diagnosis*
  • Spondylitis / microbiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*