What is the role of plain radiography in the diagnosis of diskitis?

Updated: May 13, 2020
  • Author: Alvin Marcovici, MD; Chief Editor: Jeffrey A Goldstein, MD  more...
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Answer

Although radiographic films of the spine can be very useful in diagnosing diskitis, abnormalities are visible only after several weeks following the onset of disease. The most common early finding on plain films is disk-space narrowing, followed by irregularities and erosion of the adjacent endplates and calcification of the anulus around the affected disk. As osteomyelitis progresses, bone density decreases, with loss of the normal trabeculation of the vertebra. If bone destruction continues, subluxation (with possible instability of the spine) becomes evident.


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