Epidural Abscess of the Cervical Spine: MR Findings in Five Cases.
Cervical epidural abscess is an uncommon infectious process of the spinal epidural space. Although this disorder is often unsuspected clinically, the patient's signs and symptoms may suggest other diagnoses that frequently lead to an MR examination. We retrospectively reviewed the MR examinations of five patients with surgically proved cervical epidural abscess in order to assist in the diagnosis of this clinically elusive disorder. Each epidural abscess was evaluated for MR signal intensity, location, extent, delineation, and enhancement pattern. We assessed the spinal cord for compression and signal intensity and analyzed the vertebrae, intervertebral disks, and paraspinal soft tissue. Compared with the spinal cord, the abscess was isointense or hypointense on T1-weighted spin-echo images and hyperintense on T2-weighted images. The abscess was hyperintense or isointense relative to the cord on T2* gradient-echo images. Enhancement of the abscess occurred in the two patients given an IV injection of gadopentetate dimeglumine. The epidural abscess was located anteriorly in three patients, posteriorly in one, and was circumferential in one. The abscess extended from two to nine vertebral bodies in length. In each case, the abscess caused some degree of spinal cord compression, and one patient had bright signal intensity within the cord on T2-weighted images. Three patients had MR changes of accompanying osteomyelitis and paravertebral abscess. MR imaging is useful in diagnosing cervical epidural abscess and in evaluating associated abnormality of the spinal cord, vertebral bodies, intervertebral disks, and paraspinal soft tissue.
Published In/Presented At
Kricun, R., Shoemaker, E. I., Chovanes, G. I., & Stephens, H. W. (1992). Epidural abscess of the cervical spine: MR findings in five cases. AJR. American Journal Of Roentgenology, 158(5), 1145-1149.
Medical Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Radiology
Department of Medicine, Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Medical Imaging