BMJ Case Reports 2010; doi:10.1136/bcr.11.2009.2505
  • Reminder of important clinical lesson

Spontaneous abscess of the lumbar spine presenting as subacute back pain

  1. Debapriya Bhattacharya6
  1. 1SHO (GP VTS1), Health Care of the Elderly, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Department of Radiology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  4. 4Department of Radiology, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Chesterfield, UK
  5. 5Department of General Internal Medicine, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Chesterfield, UK
  6. 6Department of Neurosurgery, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield NHS Teaching Hospitals Trust, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Jon M Dickson, jon.dickson{at}


A 52-year-old lady was admitted with back pain, fever and reduced sensation in her left leg. Soon after admission she developed acute urinary retention. She underwent urgent MRI of the spine which showed an epidural abscess compressing the thecal sac which was treated with neurosurgical decompression and intravenous/oral antibiotics. Cultures from theatre grew Staphylococcus aureus sensitive to flucloxacillin. After 12 weeks of intravenous/oral antibiotics, she was discharged without any neurological disability.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

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