Encyclopedia of Intensive Care Medicine

2012 Edition
| Editors: Jean-Louis Vincent, Jesse B. Hall

Abscess, Epidural

  • Parita Bhuva
  • Barnett R. NathanEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-00418-6_876



Spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is a suppurative collection in the space surrounding the spinal cord located between the dura mater and the vertebral periosteum.

Spinal epidural infections are rare with an incidence of 0.2–2 cases per 10,000 hospital admissions. Most cases of SEA occur in patients aged 30–60 years. The most common risk factors for SEA are diabetes mellitus, followed by trauma, intravenous drug abuse, and alcoholism.


Spinal epidural abscess is a neurosurgical emergency due to the potential for rapid deterioration to severe spinal cord dysfunction. The goal of surgery is immediate decompression and drainage. Posterior epidural abscesses are usually treated with decompressive laminectomy followed by irrigation through extradural drains for several days. In cases of anterior SEAs, anterior decompression is usually performed along with a partial or complete anterior or anterolateral...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Neurocritical Care, Departments of neurologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA