A detailed analysis of clinical features and outcomes of patients with pyogenic spondylodiscitis presenting without axial back pain

Luigi Aurelio Nasto, Massimo Fantoni, Valerio Cipolloni, Luca Piccone, Enrico Pola, Alfredo Schiavone Panni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study design: Retrospective analysis of a single institution prospective, longitudinal database of spinal pyogenic infections. Diagnosis of pyogenic spondylodiscitis (PS) can be challenging. Although presenting symptoms are often non-specific, acute non-remitting axial back pain is the most striking feature. Nevertheless, several authors have reported on the uncommon occurrence of patients with PS without axial back pain. The aim of this study was to characterize presenting symptoms, causative agents, comorbidities, and treatment outcomes of patients presenting with painless pyogenic spondylodiscitis. A total of 214 patients diagnosed with PS were reviewed; patients were divided into two groups: patients presenting with no axial back pain (no pain group, n = 16), and patients presenting with axial back pain (control group, n = 198). Analyzed data comprised general demographics, presenting symptoms, comorbidities, spinal infection location, and amount of spinal involvement. While average age (62.4 vs. 65.0) and sex distribution was similar between the two groups, a significant diagnostic delay was noted in the control group (53 vs. 17 days, p < 0.001). Patients in the no pain group were more likely IV drug abusers or have had liver failure/cirrhosis. Anatomic distribution (i.e., cervical vs thoracolumbar) of the infection did not differ between the two groups, but a higher number of post-surgical infections was noted in the no pain group (37.5 vs. 15.6%, p = 0.026). E. coli and Pseudomonas spp. were more commonly seen in no pain group patients, and mortality was also higher in this group (12.5 vs. 6.0%, p = 0.004).

Original languageEnglish
Article number54
JournalTropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Classifications of spinal infections
  • Microbiology of spinal infections
  • Pyogenic spondylodiscitis
  • Spinal infections
  • Surgical treatment of pyogenic spondylodiscitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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