Differential diagnosis between tuberculous spondylodiscitis and pyogenic spontaneous spondylodiscitis: A multicenter descriptive and comparative study

Young K. Yoon, Yu M. Jo, Hyun H. Kwon, Hee J. Yoon, Eun J. Lee, So Y. Park, Seong Y. Park, Eun J. Choo, Seong Y. Ryu, Mi S. Lee, Kyung S. Yang, Shin W. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Background context Although tuberculous and pyogenic spondylodiscitis are common causes of spinal infections, their protean manifestation complicates differential diagnosis. Purpose The clinical, laboratory, and radiologic characteristics of tuberculous and pyogenic spontaneous spondylodiscitis were compared in this study. Study design This multicenter retrospective study was conducted in 11 teaching hospitals in the Republic of Korea from January 2011 to December 2013. Patient sample Study subjects included adult patients (≥18 years) diagnosed with tuberculous (n=60) or pyogenic (n=117) spontaneous spondylodiscitis. Outcome measures Risk factors for tuberculous spondylodiscitis were determined, and their predictive performance was evaluated. Methods Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to determine predictors independently associated with tuberculous spondylodiscitis. Receiver-operating characteristic curve analysis using the presence or absence of risk factors was used to generate a risk index to identify patients with increased probability of tuberculous spondylodiscitis. Results Of 177 patients, multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that patients with tuberculous spondylodiscitis (n=60) were more frequently women, with increased nonlumbar spinal involvement and associated non-spinal lesions, delayed diagnosis, higher serum albumin levels, reduced white blood cell counts, and lower C-reactive protein and procalcitonin levels. Among 117 patients with pyogenic spondylodiscitis, the most frequent causative microorganism was Staphylococcus aureus (64.1%). The mean diagnostic delay was significantly shorter, which may reflect higher clinical expression leading to earlier diagnosis. A combination of clinical data and biomarkers had better predictive value for differential diagnosis compared with biomarkers alone, with an area under the curve of 0.93, and sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of 95.0%, 79.5%, 70.4%, and 96.9%, respectively. Conclusions This study provides guidance for clinicians to predict the causative organisms of spondylodiscitis in uncertain situations and before culture or pathologic examinations. Clinical data and single biomarkers combined can be useful for differential diagnoses between tuberculous and pyogenic spondylodiscitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1764-1771
Number of pages8
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Aug 1
Externally publishedYes


  • C-reactive protein
  • Discitis
  • Leukocytes
  • Procalcitonin
  • Pyogenic
  • Spondylitis
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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