Hemodialysis (HD) patients are at high risk for infectious complications such as spondylodiscitis. The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the cases of infective spondylodiscitis occurred between May 2005 and October 2019 among HD patients at our center.
In 14 years, there were 9 cases (mean age 69±12 years). The main comorbidities found were diabetes mellitus (55.6% of patients), hypertension (55.6%), bone diseases (22.2%), cancer (11.1%) and rheumatoid arthritis treated with steroids (11.1%). The clinical onset included back pain (100% of cases), fever (55.6%), neurological deficits (33.4%), leukocytosis (55.6%) and elevated CRP level (88.9%).
Most cases were diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging (66.7%) with more frequent involvement of lumbar region (77.8%). Blood cultures were positive in five patients (mostly for S. aureus); three of them used catheters as vascular access and, in two cases, their removal was necessary. The mean time interval between the onset of symptoms and the diagnosis was 34±42 days.
All patients received antibiotic treatment for a mean duration of 6 weeks; most cases were initially treated with vancomycin or teicoplanin plus ciprofloxacin. Most patients (77.8%) recovered after a mean of 3.5 months; one patient had a relapse after 2 years and one patient had long-term neurologic sequelae.
Infective spondylodiscitis in HD must be suspected in the presence of back pain, even in the absence of fever or traditional risk factors. An early diagnosis could improve the outcome. Close monitoring of vascular access, disinfection procedures and aseptic techniques are important to avoid this complication.
Keywords: spondylodiscitis, hemodialysis, back pain, vascular access, infectious complications, bacteremia