Joint EANM/ESNR and ESCMID-endorsed consensus document for the diagnosis of spine infection (spondylodiscitis) in adults

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2019 Nov;46(12):2464-2487. doi: 10.1007/s00259-019-04393-6. Epub 2019 Aug 9.


Purpose: Diagnosis of spondylodiscitis (SD) may be challenging due to the nonspecific clinical and laboratory findings and the need to perform various diagnostic tests including serologic, imaging, and microbiological examinations. Homogeneous management of SD diagnosis through international, multidisciplinary guidance would improve the sensitivity of diagnosis and lead to better patient outcome.

Methods: An expert specialist team, comprising nuclear medicine physicians appointed by the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM), neuroradiologists appointed by the European Society of Neuroradiology (ESNR), and infectious diseases specialists appointed by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID), reviewed the literature from January 2006 to December 2015 and proposed 20 consensus statements in answer to clinical questions regarding SD diagnosis. The statements were graded by level of evidence level according to the 2011 Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine criteria and included in this consensus document for the diagnosis of SD in adults. The consensus statements are the result of literature review according to PICO (P:population/patients, I:intervention/indicator, C:comparator/control, O:outcome) criteria. Evidence-based recommendations on the management of adult patients with SD, with particular attention to radiologic and nuclear medicine diagnosis, were proposed after a systematic review of the literature in the areas of nuclear medicine, radiology, infectious diseases, and microbiology.

Results: A diagnostic flow chart was developed based on the 20 consensus statements, scored by level of evidence according to the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine criteria.

Conclusions: This consensus document was developed with a final diagnostic flow chart for SD diagnosis as an aid for professionals in many fields, especially nuclear medicine physicians, radiologists, and orthopaedic and infectious diseases specialists.

Keywords: Imaging; Infection diagnosis; Spinal infection; Spondylodiscitis; Vertebral infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Consensus*
  • Discitis / diagnosis*
  • Documentation*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Medicine*
  • Societies, Medical*