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Surgical treatment of lumbar spondylodiscitis: a comparison of two methods

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This study evaluates two basic hypotheses: (1) the risk of an isolated dorsal approach to ventral lumbar spondylodiscitis based on clinical and radiographic results and (2) the risk of anterior radical debridement due to using a titanium implant in the site of bone infection.


Group A consisting of 23 patients was treated only by a dorsal transmuscular approach and group B consisting of eight patients was treated by two-stage posteroanterior surgery. Both evaluated groups were assessed before surgery, six weeks and one year after surgery with the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score, visual analogue scale (VAS) and Kirkaldy-Willis functional criteria. To evaluate the sagittal balance restoration, measurement by the Cobb modified angle of the affected segment was performed.


Differences (p < 0.001) in group A were found between JOA values before surgery (average 9.30) and at six weeks after surgery (average 11.82) and 12 months after surgery (13.27) and VAS differences before surgery (average 7.39), six weeks after surgery (average 3.82) and 12 months after surgery (average 2.36) in group A. According to the Kirkaldy-Willis functional criteria, 11 patients were evaluated as excellent, nine patients as good and two patients as poor. The values of the JOA score in group B showed an improvement compared with the JOA values before surgery (average 9.38) at six weeks after surgery (average 11.75) and 12 months after surgery (average 13.63), and the VAS score before surgery (average 7.38) was found to have improved six weeks after surgery (average 4.63) and 12 months after surgery (average 2.25). The functional evaluation according to the Kirkaldy-Willis functional criteria assessed three patients as excellent, four patients as good and one patient as fair. Radiographic examinations of group A revealed the following findings before surgery (average 1.75), six months after surgery (average −3.73) and 12 months after surgery (average −0.79) and in group B before surgery (average 3.71), six weeks after surgery (average −8.21) and 12 months after surgery (average −6.45).


The results demonstrate the minimum serious surgical complications and greater loss of sagittal balance without clinical correlation in group A. We did not find any relapse or persistence of the infection in the post-operative period in group B.

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Correspondence to Jiří Chomiak.

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Včelák, J., Chomiak, J. & Toth, L. Surgical treatment of lumbar spondylodiscitis: a comparison of two methods. International Orthopaedics (SICOT) 38, 1425–1434 (2014).

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