Discitis can also be called “Diskitis“, “Vertebral Discitis“, “Discitis Vertebral“, “Discitis Osteomyelitis” or “Intervertebral Discitis“. This is a condition that involves the development of inflammation in between the spaces of the intervertebral discs located in the spinal cord region of the human body. Therefore, it can also be referred to as “Discitis Vertebral“.
The discs are said to be situated in between the vertebrae, hence, the spaces between the vertebrae are termed the “Intervertebral Disc Spaces“. The swelling of the tissues in the intervertebral space can result in the increment of pressure acting on the discs which in turn leads to discomfort and pain.
The condition of discitis is known to be rare, though it is prevalent in children. Discitis is acquainted with an infection of the bone termed “Discitis Osteomyelitis“. This condition attacks the bone marrow and bones.
In most cases, when the discitis is left untreated, it can lead to an autonomous fusion of the intervertebral disc space. As a result, a chronic low-grade infection develops in the system which often progresses to myelitis or an epidural abscess.
When the inflammation occurs in one or more vertebrae which is prevalent in the region adjacent to the intervertebral disc spaces, this condition is termed spondylodiscitis. Discitis is said to be one of the numerous types of spinal inflammation as the affected areas involve the tissues encompassing the spine, vertebrae, and joints which can also be inflamed and painful.
In adults, it can lead to severe consequences, such as sepsis or epidural abscess, but it can also spontaneously resolve, especially in children under 8 years of age. Discitis occurs post-surgically in approximately 1–2 percent of patients after spinal surgery.
Different measures are used by the medical professional to diagnose discitis. Different tests and tools are utilized and they include:
- Analysis of the tissue.
- Blood tests.
- Scanning of the bone.
- Magnetic resonance imaging.
These methods of diagnosis are further emphasized below:
- Analysis of the Tissues
In most cases, the medical professional may be prompted to request a biopsy of the patient by extracting samples from the spinal tissues for laboratory analysis.
This analysis is aimed at developing the diagnosis and ruling out other possible conditions associated with the signs and symptoms observed.
- Blood Tests
The medical professional can opt for testing of the patient’s blood to aid the diagnosis of discitis. In this case, the doctor will obtain a sample of the patient’s blood and then, send the extracted sample to the laboratory for the lab technicians to analyze the sample.
The lab technicians can utilize different means of testing rule out other conditions and check for any sign of infection. As an example, a full blood count is often conducted and regarded as a very common blood test. The lab technicians can utilize the blood count to ascertain accurately the numbers of red and white blood cells present in the patient’s blood.
The quantity of red and white blood cells in the patient can aid the detection of any sign of infections in the body with irregular elevation or increment in the white blood cells inclusive.
Also, a test known as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate test can be utilized to search for possible inflammations in the body.
- Bone Scans
Due to the association of the discitis with the bone infection known as osteomyelitis, a bone scan is often required to assess the vertebrae and the spaces around them for any form of infection.
This bone scan can aid in the determination of the vitality of the bone and any possible bone infection. The bone scan is performed by either a nurse or a technician. The technician will inject radioactive material into the veins of the patient before conducting the scan. The radioactive material travels through the blood and circulates the body searching for areas where a bone is broken or growing.
Afterward, the patient will be required to lay on an examination table where a scanning machine and a camera will move over the body. The camera will then track the radioactive material as it circulates the bones and body.
- Imaging Tests
Also, imaging tests comprising mainly of the discitis magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and X-ray can be used to diagnose discitis.
The images gotten from these tests can show clearly the picture of the patient’s spine and tissues surrounding the spinal region. Though, the inflammation and infection can potentially migrate from one region to the other.
Development of discitis can be detrimental, hence, knowledge of risk factors associated with the condition are listed as follows:
- The presence of an autoimmune disorder can result in discitis.
- Patients recovering from a surgical procedure are liable for the condition.
- Persons with a weak immune system are also susceptible to the condition.
- Infants and young children within the age range of fewer than 10 years of age are susceptible to this condition.
- Usage of intravenous drugs can also lead to the condition
DISCITIS OSTEOMYELITIS TREATMENT
Patient’s diagnosed with discitis are required to follow the prescriptions of medications recommended by the doctor to treat discitis. Anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed to treat an autoimmune reaction, and antibiotics are used for bacterial infections. Hence, some steroids may be administered to relieve severe or chronic discitis in patients, therefore, regarded as discitis antibiotics.
Also, the medical professional may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen to ease the pain. Based on the severity of discitis signs and symptoms, the doctor may recommend a more invasive treatment that involves a surgical procedure.
The surgical procedure tends to resolve problems stemming from osteomyelitis to discitis. This surgical procedure involves the reconstruction of areas in the spine to enhance efficiency and mobility.
The doctor may also recommend some physical alterations listed as follows:
- Changes in daily activities.
- Regular rest.
- Putting on a back brace to provide support to the bone.
The discitis osteomyelitis symptoms primarily observed is pain in the part of the spine where the patient’s lower and upper back are majorly affected.
Other symptoms acquainted with discitis may include
- Change in the posture of the affected patient when on motion and static.
- Rigidity in the back of the affected person.
- Presence of high fever in the patient.
- Pain in the abdominal muscles and discomfort.
- Inability to perform regular mobility tasks efficiently.
Generally, conditions about the bone are mainly caused by a bacterial or viral infection, therefore, discitis can be attributed to viruses or bacteria.
Also, discitis can be caused by an autoimmune disorder. The reaction of the body system to the autoimmune or infection is the swelling and inflammation of the spine subsequently results in symptoms like pain and other adverse effects.
What is the long-term outlook for people with discitis?
The discitis osteomyelitis prognosis for most people is good as early diagnosis and proper treatment will give optimum recovery. Little side effects may be present due to medications.
How long does Discitis take to heal?
Treatment takes six to eight weeks utilizing antibiotics therapy. It is treatable and antibiotic therapy is administered intravenously daily.
Can Discitis spread?
Discitis spreads as they can start somewhere else before migrating to the disc space.
How serious is an infection in the spine?
Spinal infections are detrimental as they can cause serious havoc to the spine as the discs can experience inflammation. This results in breaking down or decay.
Can Discitis cause paralysis?
Discitis is associated with intervertebral infection, therefore, it can lead to paralysis or other life-threatening situations when it is left untreated.