HIV status does not affect microbiologic spectrum or neurologic outcome in spinal infections

Robert Heary, C. David Hunt, Abbott J. Krieger, Chetan Vaid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


The impact of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) on the clinical presentations, causative organisms, and neurologic outcomes of patients with spinal infections is reviewed. Thirty-two patients with spinal epidural abscesses, vertebral osteomyelitis, or both were treated at an urban hospital over a 42-month period. Thirteen of these patients were confirmed by serologic analysis to be HIV seropositive. The diagnoses were confirmed by 30 open surgical procedures (14 anterior, 16 posterior) and seven percutaneous biopsies. Twenty-seven intraoperative cultures were positive and the remaining three patients had positive blood cultures prior to the surgical procedure. In both the HIV (+) and HIV (-) groups, Staphylococcus aureus predominated as the causative organism (overall rate: 72%). Mycobacterium tuberculosis was the second most common organism. The clinical presentations in both groups were similar with pain as the most frequent symptom and objective neurologic abnormalities on physical examination in 29 of the 32 patients (91%). The results of this analysis show that the clinical presentations and organisms cultured do not differ depending upon a concurrent HIV infection. Furthermore, the ultimate neurologic outcome of patients with spinal infections depends on their neurologic status at the time of treatment and not on their HIV status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-423
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical Neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


  • Epidural abscess
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Spinal extradural infection
  • Vertebral osteomyelitis

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