colon; Spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is a rare condition; consequently, the clinical significance of early diagnosis often is overlooked. The challenge with SEA is not its treatment, but achieving early diagnosis before neurological symptoms occur. Once neurological deficits are present, immediate treatment must be implemented to prevent deterioration that can result in paralysis. The common SEA signs and symptoms are fever, back pain, and radicular symptoms that can progress to weakness and paralysis. Magnetic resonance imaging is the imaging of choice for diagnosis. Treatments include antibiotics and surgical evacuation of the abscess if neurologic deficits are present. Nurses play a major role in caring for SEA patients by identifying those at risk, preventing complications, and collaborating with a multidisciplinary team to prepare patients for rehabilitation.
(C) 2005 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses