Clinicoradiologic Profile of Involvement and Healing in Tuberculosis of the Spine

Author(s): Singh R*, Magu NK and Rohilla RK

Background: There is no much information about how tuberculous lesions of the spine progress/heal; what clinical and radiological features suggest progression/healing; what is the optimal duration of antitubercular treatment; and what clinical, laboratory, and radiological investigations and their frequency should be done to monitor the disease course. Aims: The present study aimed to evaluate what specific clinicoradiologic features suggest involvement and healing in tuberculosis of the spine. Subjects and Methods: Fifty spinal tuberculosis patients (30 males and 20 females) diagnosed clinicoradiologically were enrolled in the study. Patients were evaluated clinically, radiographically, and by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at regular intervals to monitor the disease course till 24 months of the initial presentation. Results: Wedge/collapse (23/50 cases), soft tissue mass (29/50 cases), disc narrowing (45/54 discs), and endplate erosions (89/107 endplates) were the plain radiological findings of tubercular spinal involvement. Earliest sign of healing on plain radiography was decrease in fuzziness of endplate, ultimately leading to either sclerosis of endplate or fusion of adjacent vertebrae. Initial MRI findings included bone marrow edema (50/50 cases), discitis (53/62 discs), endplate erosions (105/123 endplates), pre‑ and para‑vertebral collections (45/50 cases), epidural involvement (26/50 cases), epidural spread (77/109 vertebrae), and subligamentous spread (42/50 cases). Earliest feature of healing on magnetic resonance (MR) examination was decrease in inflammatory soft‑tissue masses and reduction in marrow edema. Conclusions: Salient features of spinal involvement in tuberculosis on plain radiograph were paradiscal involvement, endplate destruction, and soft tissue masses. Marrow edema, paravertebral collections, subligamentous spread, extradural component, endplate erosion, and discitis suggested tubercular involvement of the spine on MRI. A decrease in these was observed to have prognostic value both in monitoring disease course and response to chemotherapy. Based on the clinicoradiologic findings of the present study, we propose decision‑making algorithm, follow‑up algorithm, and MR examination protocol for spinal tuberculosis. Keywords: Clinicoradiologic features, Magn


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