What is the role of imaging studies in the diagnosis of spinal epidural abscess?

Updated: Jul 12, 2018
  • Author: J Stephen Huff, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Niranjan N Singh, MBBS, MD, DM, FAHS, FAANEM  more...
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  • Immediate imaging of the spine and spinal cord is imperative when the diagnosis is clinically suspected.

  • If available, spinal MRI is the procedure of choice. Recall that symptoms are often defined by spinal cord level, while MRI is ordered by regional or vertebral levels. Because abscesses frequently extend for several levels, be certain to order the anatomically correct region.

  • If MRI is unavailable, CT myelography or conventional myelography can reveal an intraspinal extramedullary mass—a "surgical" lesion.

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