Pyogenic infectious spondylitis in children: the convergence of discitis and vertebral osteomyelitis

J Pediatr Orthop. 1995 Sep-Oct;15(5):652-60. doi: 10.1097/01241398-199509000-00021.


The outcomes of 47 patients, ranging in age from 7 months to 15 years, 8 months (average, 4 years, 8 months) with presumed pyogenic infectious spondylitis (so-called discitis) were evaluated retrospectively with regard to duration and recurrence of symptoms, and the need for readmission, retreatment, or surgical intervention. Among nonimmobilized patients, 18% (four of 22) receiving intravenous antibiotics, 50% (five of 10) receiving oral antibiotics, and 67% (four of six) receiving no antibiotics (analgesics and bed rest only) had either prolonged or recurrent symptoms or both. Among patients treated with spinal immobilization, one of five receiving concomitant intravenous antibiotics and two of two receiving no antibiotics had a recurrence of symptoms following discontinuation of immobilization. Two patients required surgical drainage of paraspinal abscesses (one cervical and one lumbar). These findings support the contention that so-called discitis is simply pyogenic infectious spondylitis in children and suggest that specific treatment with intravenous antibiotics is more likely to lead to rapid relief of symptoms and signs without recurrence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Discitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Discitis / drug therapy*
  • Discitis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immobilization
  • Infant
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Radiography
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents