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Preventing and treating discitis: cephazolin penetration in ovine lumbar intervertebral disc

By Rebecca Walters, Razmi Rahmat, Robert Fraser and Robert Moore


Infection can occur after any spinal procedure that violates the disc and although it is not common, the potential consequences are serious. Treatment of discitis is not always successful and the key to management is prevention. Intradiscal prophylaxis with antibiotic is routinely used in spinal surgery, but there is a limited understanding of how well antibiotics can enter the avascular disc after intravenous injection. An in vivo ovine study to optimise prophylactic and parenteral treatment of discitis is described to assess the effectiveness of cephazolin in preventing and treating infection. The concentration of cephazolin was measured in disc tissue from normal and degenerate sheep discs to determine if cephazolin can enter the disc and if disc degeneration affects antibiotic uptake. Fourteen sheep were deliberately inoculated with bacteria to induce discitis. Eight sheep (“prophylaxis” group) were given either a 0, 1, 2 or 3 g dose of prophylactic cephazolin before inoculation while the remaining sheep (“treatment” group) were treated with cephazolin commencing 7 days after inoculation for 21 days at a dose of 50 mg/kg/day. Histopathology and radiography were used to assess the effect of the different treatments. Cephazolin was given 30 min prior to sacrifice and the intradiscal concentration was measured by biochemistry. In the “prophylaxis” group all doses of antibiotic provided some protection against infection, although it was not dose dependent. In the “treatment” group discitis was confirmed radiologically and histologically in all animals from 2 weeks onwards. Biochemical assay confirmed that antibiotic is distributed throughout the disc but was present in higher concentration in the anulus fibrosus than the nucleus pulposus. This study demonstrated that whilst the incidence of iatrogenic discitis can be reduced by antibiotic prophylaxis, it could not be abolished in all incidences with a broad-spectrum antibiotic such as cephazolin. Furthermore, antibiotics were ineffective at preventing endplate destruction once an intradiscal inoculum was established

Topics: Original Article
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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