Spinal tuberculosis

Surgery for spinal tuberculosis

A devastating kind of Tuberculosis that affects the spine of called spinal tuberculosis. A major portion of musculoskeletal tuberculosis is conquered by the spinal tuberculosis. The condition is most commonly seen among young adults and children. Studies and evidences say that spinal tuberculosis is at an increased rate in developed nations. Back pain is the major symptom of spinal tuberculosis. Spinal TB may not always affect the thoracic region of the vertebral column. A germ called “mycobacterium tuberculosis” is the germ that causes tuberculosis of the spine.

A patient with spinal tuberculosis may show the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the back
  • Fever
  • Excessive weight loss without trying
  • Loss of appetite
  • Clumsiness of imbalance while walking
  • Frank paralysis

To diagnose the condition, the doctor will first evaluate the medical history of the patient. Accurate medical history and physical examination are the two main tools to identify the condition. The doctor will assess the spinal motion and assess the neurological function of the patient. The doctor may also suggest test such as x-ray, MRI etc. In certain doubtful conditions, the doctor may suggest special tests like PCR and ELISA. A bone scan may also be suggested to indentify bone defects.

Age of the patient, severity of the condition, amount of bone destruction, functioning of the nerves etc. are some of the major factors considered while opting the treatment. Antituberculosis medications are the major nonsurgical treatment option for spinal TB. However, excessive intake of antituberculosis medication may cause liver dysfunction. Surgery is suggested only when there is a significant neurological defect present in the patient. Other indications for surgery incude:

  • Severe spinal column damage that leads to instability
  • Severe deformity of the back
  • Doubtful diagnosis
  • Failure of nonsurgical treatment options

The main goal of the surgery is to stabilize the spine. Certain types of rods and screws are used in the surgery. Any deformity caused to the spine due to the TB infection should also be corrected during the surgery. The surgery can be done either from the front or from the backside. Surgeries from the front side is mostly preferred by the patients. Surgery from the front becomes necessary when there is a very severe nerve compression. Surgery is considered safe excluding the normal risks and complications of any surgery. A complete recovery after the surgery may take around 12 months of time.

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