Decompression only versus fusion in octogenarians with spinal epidural abscesses: early complications, clinical and radiological outcome with 2-year follow-up.

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Publication Date


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Neurosurgical review


washington; swedish neuro


Despite increased life expectancy due to health care quality improvements globally, pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis (PVO) treatment with a spinal epidural abscess (SEA) remains challenging in patients older than 80 years. We aimed to assess octogenarians for PVO prevalence with SEA and compare after-surgery clinical outcomes of decompression and decompression and instrumentation. A retrospective review of electronic medical records at a single institution was conducted between September 2005 and December 2020. Patient demographics, surgical characteristics, complications, hospital course, and 90-day mortality were collected. Comorbidities were assessed using the age-adjusted Charlson comorbidity index (CCI). Over 16 years, 35 patients aged ≥80 years with PVO and SEA were identified. Eighteen patients underwent surgical decompression ("decompression group"), and 17 underwent surgical decompression with instrumentation ("instrumentation group"). Both groups had a CCI >6 (mean±SD, 8.9±2.1 vs. 9.6±2.7, respectively; p=0.065). Instrumentation group patients had a significantly longer hospital stay but no ICU stay. In-hospital and 90-days mortality rates were similar in both groups. The mean follow-up was 26.6±12.4 months. No further surgeries were performed. Infection levels and neurological status were improved in both groups at discharge. At the second-stage analysis, significant improvements in the blood infection parameters and the neurological status were detected in the decompression group. Octogenarians with PVO and SEA have a high adverse events risk after surgical procedures. Surgical decompression might contribute to earlier clinical recovery in older patients. Thus, the surgical approach should be discussed with patients and their relatives and be carefully weighed.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)


Institute for Systems Biology