The aim of our study was to analyse the characteristics of haematogenous vertebral osteomyelitis (HVO) in the elderly. A retrospective comparative analysis of the medical records of 72 patients (38 younger than 63 years, group 1, and 34 aged 63 years and over, group 2) with haematogenous vertebral osteomyelitis of confirmed aetiology was carried out. Intravenous drug addiction and infection with the human immunodeficiency virus were seen in 4/38 (10%) and 5/38 (13%) patients from group 1 and 0/34 patients (0%) from group 2 (P= 0.05 and 0.035, respectively). Seven of 34 elderly (20%) and 0/38 (0%) young individuals had recently had surgery (P= 0.0036). Escherichia coli was isolated in 7/34 elderly (20%) and 0/38 (0%) young patients (P= 0.0036). The remaining studied data did not reach statistical significance. Recent surgery is a risk factor for developing HVO in the elderly, the urinary tract being the source of the pathogen in a large number of elderly patients with spinal infection.
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