42 cases of spinal epidural abscesses were operated on in the years 1957-1980, among approximately 8,000 spinal operations. Staphylococcus aureus was the microorganism most commonly isolated from infected material and the primary source of infection was in most cases cutaneous and/or subcutaneous lesions. Typical clinical history included back pain and fever, with progressive nerve root and spinal cord involvement. The cases were divided into three groups according to the operative findings: (a) acute abscesses; (b) chronic abscesses, and (c) mixed or subacute abscesses. These three groups differed as to duration of illness, incidence of meningeal signs, white blood cell concentration and lumbar puncture results. Plain X-rays were positive in 20% of cases. Myelography, whose indications were maximally restricted, gave in some instances inaccurate results. Treatment consisted of extensive laminectomy of all the affected spinal segments, and drainage of infected material. Local and systemic appropriate antibiotic therapy was also given. An average of 16 daily sessions of barotherapy, consisting of 1.7-2.0 atm given in 40-60 min, were administered in the last 9 cases. When compared with the patients to which barotherapy was not given, these cases showed a lower rate of permanent disability (11 vs. 21%), even if they were managed under less favorable clinical and neurological conditions. These results seem to support a favorable role of hyperbaric treatment in the management of spinal epidural abscesses. Early diagnosis and appropriate management remain essential in order to have satisfactory treatment results.
Ravicovitch, Spallone, , , , , , , (1982). Spinal epidural abscesses. Surgical and parasurgical management. European neurology, 1982 ;21(5):347-57. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7117323