Spinal epidural abscess is also known as or subsumes Spinal pachymeningitis externa and Spinal peripachymeningitis. -ed.
Spinal epidural abscess is the result of loculated infection within the fat-filled space that separates the spinal dura and arachnoid. The condition is a neurologic and neurosurgical emergency that, if unrecognized, may cause devastating neurologic injury. Because of its infrequent occurrence, however, the possibility of epidural abscess tends to be ignored in patients presenting with fever and back or neck pain, and failure to recognize this condition also makes epidural abscess a significant cause of litigation for malpractice. In this clinical summary, Dr. John Greenlee, Professor and Executive Vice Chair of Neurology at the University of Utah School of Medicine, reviews the pathogenesis, clinical features, diagnosis, and treatment of this disorder.