Spinal Cord Abscess – Causes, Symptoms and Risk Factors!

Spinal Cord Abscess – Causes, Symptoms and Risk Factors that we should be aware of. Also, a spinal cord abscess (SCA) is a rare condition that can cause permanent damage to your spinal cord. An abscess is a swollen area in your tissues that contains a buildup of pus. This happens when damaged tissues become contaminated.

Your body’s immune system sends out white blood cells to help fight the infection. White blood cells begin to fill the damaged tissue, causing pus to accumulate. Pus is made up of dead cells, immune cells and bacteria.

Once antibiotics became widespread, SCAs became extremely rare. If you develop one, your doctor will likely use surgery and antibiotics to treat it. They may also recommend rehabilitation therapy to help you recover from neurological symptoms.

Main Symptoms of Spinal Cord Abscess: At first, a spinal cord abscess  may not produce symptoms. But as the infection or abscess grows, it can put pressure on the spinal cord. Infection and pressure can cause potentially serious symptoms, such as:

  • Sudden onset of pain
  • Sharp pain that can radiate to your arms or legs
  • Weakness that progresses quickly
  • Loss of sensation below the abscess area
  • Paralysis below the abscess area
  • Loss of control of your bladder and bowels
  • Fever

Main Causes of Spinal Cord Abscess:  A spinal cord abscess is usually caused by the introduction of bacteria into your spinal cord. The most common bacteria that cause spinal cord abscess come from Staphylococcus and Streptococcus species.

Once these bacteria are inside your body, they can find a place to live and grow in your spinal cord. Your body sends white blood cells to fight the bacterial infection, causing pus to build up and an abscess to form.

Other Possible Causes of a Spinal Cord Abscess Include:

  • Worms that develop on your skin, especially the skin on your back or scalp
  • Septicemia, an infection of your blood that can spread to your central nervous system
  • Injury caused by a foreign object, such as a bullet or knife
  • Complications of back surgery or a lumbar puncture procedure
  • Dermal sinus, a canal that can form between your skin and spinal canal while you are developing in the womb
  • Tuberculosis

Risk Factors for a Spinal Cord Abscess:  You are at risk of developing a spinal cord abscess if you have:

  • A history of long-term use of anticoagulant agents or blood thinners
  • A weakened immune system, which makes it easier for bacterial infections to develop
  • Crohn’s disease , a disease that can cause lesions to form and burst in your digestive tract
  • A broken gallbladder
  • The habit of injecting illicit drugs

Diagnosing a Spinal Cord Abscess:  The symptoms of a spinal cord abscess are often vague and can be similar to those of other conditions. As a result, it can be challenging for your doctor to diagnose a spinal cord abscess . They may use various diagnostic tests and tools, including blood tests, imaging tests, and a spinal tap.

Blood Tests:  Your doctor may start by drawing a sample of your blood for laboratory testing. Technicians will check your blood for signs of infection. For example, they might rate your:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
  • C-reactive protein levels

Lumbar Puncture:  Your doctor may also take a sample of your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for analysis. CSF is a clear, watery fluid that surrounds the spine and brain. This helps to cushion and protect them.

To collect a sample of your CSF, your doctor will perform a spinal tap, also known as a spinal twist. They will insert a needle into your spinal cavity to take a sample of the fluid. Then they’ll send it to a lab, where technicians will check for signs of infection.

Imaging Tests:  Your doctor may also use imaging technologies to examine your spine. For example, they may request:

  • X ray
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

Treatment For  A Spinal Cord Abscess:  Early diagnosis and treatment are essential. If left untreated, a spinal cord abscess can burst, allowing millions of bacteria to spread throughout the body.

Once your doctor has located a spinal cord abscess, they will have to drain or remove the abscess. For example, they may refer you to a surgeon for a laminectomy. For this procedure, you will be placed under anesthesia.

Then your surgeon will carefully open the abscess and drain all the pus and fluid inside. They will rinse with sterile saline to wash away any remaining bacteria. If they find a dermal sinus, they will normally consume the sinuses.

Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics as well. These drugs will help kill disease-causing bacteria in your system and prevent the risk of further infection.

Possible Complications of Spinal Cord Abscess:  The potentially dangerous complications of a spinal cord abscess  are recurrent infections, persistent pain, weakness, numbness, loss of bowel or bladder control, and even death.

It can also cause neurological symptoms and complications that persist for weeks or even years after the abscess is drained or removed. You may need neurorehabilitation to treat these symptoms.

Other complications can include dysuria and stress incontinence. Desurine refers to difficult or painful urination. If you have stress incontinence, it is difficult to control your bladder under physical stress, such as when you are laughing.

Outlook For Someone With Spinal Cord Abscess:  The sooner you get an SCA, the more positive your outlook will be. If left untreated, this can lead to more widespread infections. Early and effective treatment can help prevent the infection from getting worse and spreading. It can also help relieve your symptoms.

If you have neurological symptoms that persist after initial treatment, you may need rehabilitation therapy. It can help you regain your ability to move and function normally.

Ask your doctor for more information about your specific condition, treatment plan, and outlook.

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