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Bacteremia Coexisting With Tophaceous Gout of the Spine Mimicking Spondylodiscitis: A Case Report

Tsai, Chun-Hao, MD*; Chen, Yen-Jen, MD*†; Hsu, Horng-Chaung, MD*†; Chen, Hsien-Te, MD*

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e31818d051a
Case Reports
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Study Design. A case report and review of the literature.

Objective. To report a rare case of bacteremia coexisting with spinal gout initially suspected as pyogenic spondylodiscitis.

Summary of Background Data. Gouty spine is a rare disease. It is even rare when coexisting with bacteremia. The presentation as pain, fever, and positive blood culture will make it more difficult to distinguish from spinal infection.

Methods. A 64-year-old woman with type II diabetes mellitus and chronic renal insufficiency was admitted to the emergency department with a fever of 39°C, chills, and back pain. Laboratory studies revealed an elevated white count and neutrophils; her serum glucose level was 279 mg/dL. The C-reactive protein level was 25.55 mg/dL and serum uric acid was in the upper range of normal. Blood cultures revealed Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Enterococcus faecalis. Urine culture revealed 3 separate gram-negative bacilli. Magnetic resonance imaging of the spine revealed contrast enhancement in the L4–L5 and T5–T9 vertebral bodies. Infective spondylodiscitis of the lumbar and thoracic spine was suspected.

Results. Because antibiotic treatment had failed, surgical debridement with diskectomy, partial corpectomy, and allogenous strut graft reconstruction (T8–T9) was performed. During the operation, 600 cc of pleural effusion was drained. Chalky white material was noted at the T8–T9 disc and the adjacent vertebral bodies. Cultures for bacteria, tuberculosis, and fungus were all negative. Histologic examination revealed deposition of eosinophilic crystal-like material, and a diagnosis of tophaceous gout of the spine was established.

Conclusion. This is, to our knowledge, the first case of bacteremia coexisting with multiple areas of tophaceous gout of the spine. Although uncommon, gouty spine should be added into the differential diagnosis of patients with back pain and bacteremia.

This is the first reported case of bacteremia coexisting with tophaceous gout of the spine. Although it is uncommon, just as this case of a 64-year-old patient revealed, gouty spine should be added to the differential diagnosis of patients with back pain and bacteremia.

From the *Department of Orthopedic Surgery, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan; and †School of Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan.

Acknowledgment date: June 16, 2008. Revision date: July 31, 2008. Acceptance date: August 5, 2008.

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

No funds were received in support of this work. No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Yen-Jen Chen, MD, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, China Medical University Hospital, number 2, Yuh-Der Rd, Taichung 404, Taiwan, Republic of China; E-mail: yenjenc@yahoo.com

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.