BMJ Case Reports 2012; doi:10.1136/bcr.01.2012.5642
  • Reminder of important clinical lesson

Complicated septic cervical and lumbar discitis

  1. Niall Collum
  1. Emergency Department, Ulster Hospital, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Salah Idris, salahidris2002{at}


A 69-year-old lady presented with back pain for 5 days associated with spiking temperatures, lower limb weakness and urinary retention. Urgent MRI showed discitis at the disc between cervical vertebra seven (C7), thoracic vertebra one (T1) and lumbar vertebra three and four (L3-4), associated dural inflammation, stenosis of the cervical spinal canal and cervical cord oedema at the level of C3. No definite epidural abscess was seen. She was transferred to the spinal unit for observation. Following transfer she rapidly developed respiratory compromise and required emergency spinal decompression later that day.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

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