Spinal Cord Abscess
A spinal cord abscess is a walled off area of infection within the spinal cord.
What is going on in the body?
A spinal cord abscess occurs within the cord itself when infection spreads from the bloodstream. Most infections that cause spinal cord abscesses spread through the bloodstream from other parts of the body, including the heart and lungs.
What are the causes and risks of the infection?
Most spinal cord abscesses are caused by bacteria that travel from infections in other parts of the body, especially:
bacterial growths on heart valves, known as endocarditis
urinary tract infections
infections of the lungs, such as pneumonia
sinus infections, or sinusitis
infections in the mouth
A person is at higher risk for spinal cord abscess if he or she has:
had a recent infection, particularly one of those listed as a cause of spinal cord abscess
had recent surgery
a weakened immune system, such as from an immunodeficiency disorder or chemotherapy. This would include individuals with diabetes or HIV.
If untreated, spinal cord abscesses may result in permanent paralysis of the legs, the trunk of the body, or possibly both the arms and the legs.