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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Imaging-Assisted Diagnosis and Characteristics of Suspected Spinal Brucellosis: A Retrospective Study of 72 Cases

Laiyong Tu, Xinmei Liu, Wenfei Gu, Zhenbin Wang, Enfeng Zhang, Aikenmu Kahar, Ge Chu, Jiang Zhao

Department of Spinal Surgery, Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Urumchi, Xinjiang, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2018; 24: CLR2647-2654

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.909288

Available online: 2018-04-29

Published: 2018-04-29


BACKGROUND: We clarified the imaging features of Brucella spondylitis to enhance our understanding of the disease and to minimize misdiagnosis.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Imaging data (X-ray, computed tomography [CT], and magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] data) of 72 Brucella spondylitis patients treated from 2010 to 2017 were retrospectively analyzed; diagnoses was made by evaluating laboratory and pathological data.
RESULTS: X-ray films revealed changes in intervertebral space heights, the number of lateral osteophytes, and bone destruction, which were more severe in the following order: lumbosacral vertebrae (56 cases, 77.8%), cervical spine (6 cases, 8.3%), thoracic spine (5 cases, 6.9%), and multi-segmental mixed vertebrae (5 cases, 6.9%). CT revealed osteolytic destruction attributable to early-stage Brucella spondylitis (endplate and vertebral lamellar osteolysis), usually associated with multiple vertebral involvement, with the middle and late disease stages being characterized by osteophytes in the vertebral margins and bony bridges, endplate sclerosis, and vertebral osteosynthesis. We encountered 54 cases (75%) with endplate lamellar osteolysis, 37 (51.4%) with vertebral lamellar osteolysis, 59 (81.9%) with marginal osteophytes, 10 (13.9%) with bony bridges, 25 (34.7%) with vertebral laminar sclerosis, and 17 (23.6%) with vertebral osteosynthesis. MRI revealed early, low-intensity, differential T1WI vertebral and intervertebral signals, with occasional iso-signals, T2WI iso-signals or high-intensity signals; and T2WI-FS vertebral and intervertebral high-intensity signals, commonly from vertebral soft tissues and rarely from paravertebral abscesses.
CONCLUSIONS: A better understanding of the X-ray, CT, and MRI features of Brucella spondylitis could aid in diagnosis when combined with epidemiological and laboratory data, thus minimizing misdiagnosis.

Keywords: Brucella, brucellosis, Spine