Journal of Global Infectious DiseasesOfficial Publishing of INDUSEM and OPUS 12 Foundation, Inc. Users online:1153  
Print this pageEmail this pageSmall font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size     
Home About us Editors Ahead of Print Current Issue Archives Search Instructions Subscribe Advertise Login 

   Table of Contents     
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 132-134
Spinal epidural abscess caused by Bacteroides fragilis group after dilation and curettage for incomplete abortion

1 Department of Neurology and Neurological Science, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan
2 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication30-May-2012


Spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is a rare infection complicated in patients who have some risk factors such as injection-drug use, diabetes mellitus, and several illnesses. However, no case of SEA associated with abortion has been reported. Here we report a case of SEA in a 30-year-old woman after dilation and curettage for incomplete abortion. The diagnosis of SEA was done by MRI and pus was drained after the cervical discectomy. Bacteroides fragilis group was cultured from the aspirated pus sample. The patient responded to surgical drainage and antibiotics.

Keywords: Abortion, Bacretoides fragilis, Spinal epidural abscess

How to cite this article:
Ohyagi M, Ohkubo T, Taniyama T, Tomizawa S, Okawa A, Yokota T, Mizusawa H. Spinal epidural abscess caused by Bacteroides fragilis group after dilation and curettage for incomplete abortion. J Global Infect Dis 2012;4:132-4

How to cite this URL:
Ohyagi M, Ohkubo T, Taniyama T, Tomizawa S, Okawa A, Yokota T, Mizusawa H. Spinal epidural abscess caused by Bacteroides fragilis group after dilation and curettage for incomplete abortion. J Global Infect Dis [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 May 26];4:132-4. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is a rare severe infection and accounts for 2.5−3.0 cases per 10,000 admissions in general hospitals. Several SEA risk factors, such as injection-drug use, diabetes mellitus, and several illnesses have been identified, [1] however, no report has described SEA associated with abortion. Furthermore, SEA caused by anerobic bacteria is rare. We report a case of post-abortion SEA caused by the Bacteroides fragilis group, which was managed successfully with antibiotics and surgical drainage.

   Case Report Top

A 30-year-old woman was transferred to our hospital for fever and posterior cervical pain. Two weeks before admission, dilation and curettage (D and C) under intravenous anesthesia was performed for incomplete abortion. After D and C, her obstetrician prescribed ampicillin (750 mg/day), however, she took them only one day. She had no symptoms of infection at the time. Three days later, she developed posterior cervical pain, which worsened and caused difficulty in flexing and extending the neck. Ten days after the operation, she was admitted to the emergency department of another hospital. Physical examination revealed body temperature of 39.3°C; blood pressure, 147/91 mmHg; pulse, 101 beats/min; and respiratory rate, 18 breaths/min. She experienced severe pain and stiffness in the neck. Neither abdominal nor pelvic signs were seen. She did not have any past history and family history of diabetes mellitus. Her leukocytes were elevated to 8100/μl and the C-reactive protein (CRP) was positive. She was transferred to our hospital the same afternoon. Physical examination revealed mild weakness in the right upper limb [Medical Research Council (MRC) grade 4]; deep tendon reflexes were slightly decreased. Sensory examination showed numbness in the right upper limb at the level C5-Th1. Neck stiffness was evident, but the Kernig's sign was negative. The liver-function test results and electrolyte levels were normal; however, leukocytes had elevated to 8400/μl, and the CRP level had elevated to 9.87 mg/dl. She was seronegative for hepatitis B virus surface antigen, and hepatitis C virus and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibodies. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis showed elevated cell count (266/μl) and total protein concentration (1,311 mg/dl). Gram staining and blood, CSF and vaginal swab cultures were negative. Chest radiography revealed normal results, and a transthoracic echocardiography showed no vegetation on the valves. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the cervical spine showed infectious spondylodiscitis at the C5/C6 level and anterior epidural abscesses at C4-Th3 with spinal cord compression [Figure 1]. Furthermore, T2-weighted images revealed high signal intensity in the spinal cord.
Figure 1: Sagittal T2-weighted image shows an anterior epidural mass associated with C5 spondylodiscitis at the C4-Th3 level

Click here to view

Intravenous injections of ampicillin (12 g/day) and ceftriaxone (4 g/day), and hyperbaric oxygen therapy were administered. Seven days after admission, weakness in the right upper and lower limbs increased (MRC grade 2) and the numbness extended to the right lower limb. MRI showed enlarged epidural abscesses and increased spinal cord compression; therefore, urgent orthopedic surgery was performed. After the anterior discectomy of C5 and C6, pus was drained. Since pus culture revealed B. fragilis group, oral metronidazole (1 g/day) was administered in addition to the intravenous antibiotics injection. Postoperative MRI showed resolution of the epidural fluid collection with the spinal cord decompression. The weakness in her limb muscles were improved (MRC grade 4), and the numbness gradually resolved after the operation.

   Discussion Top

In most causes of SEA, at least one predisposing factor such as intravenous drug use, diabetes mellitus, invasive spinal procedures, penetrating spinal trauma, and immunosuppressive therapy is present; however, D and C for abortion as one of the risk factors for SEA has not reported previously.

Bacteremia occurs in approximately 5% of the patients who undergo D and C, and progresses to intrauterinal abscess in most cases. [2] However, some forms of extrauterinal abscess after D and C, such as anaerobic breast abscess, [3] septic arthritis and thigh abscess caused by β-haemolytic streptococci, [4] psoas abscess caused by Staphylococcus aureus[5] and bacterial sacroliliitis and gluteal abscess caused by Streptococcus agalactiae[6] have been rarely reported. These manifestations were not associated with any underlying diseases, and most of them eventually required surgical drainage. Although the role of antimicrobial prophylaxis in postprocedural pelvic inflammatory disease prevention has been extensively discussed, [7] there is no evidence supporting the use of antibiotics for subacute bacterial endocarditis prophylaxis.

A large variety of causative agents for SEA have been indentified; however, two-thirds of the causes of pyogenic bacteremia were caused by Staphylococcus aureus, and only 2% of the cases were caused by anaerobic bacteria. [8] The B. fragilis group, which includes organisms such as B. fragilis, B. ovatus, B. thetaiotaomicron, B. uniformis, and B. vulgatus, contains anerobic bacteria. These bacteria can produce a wide variety of infections with a tendency to form abscesses. [9] Female genital tract infections caused by these bacteria include bacterial vaginosis, endometritis, and postsurgical obstetric and gynecologic infections. On the other hand, except for extragenital procedures involving D and C, endodonic procedure and vertebroplasy might be one of the risk factors of anerobic spondylodiscitis, which were resulted from hematogenous spreading from a distant primary site of infection. [10]

   Conclusion Top

In our case, D and C for incomplete abortion might have caused transient bacteremia resulted in spondylodiscitis and hematogenous SEA. Micro-organism in vagina might reach cervical discs through hematogenous spreading from pelvic venous plexus (Batson's plexus) and cause spondylodiscitis and SEA in early days. The patient did not have any risk factors other than the D and C procedure. SEA should be considered a complication of the D and C for abortion. Early imaging could play a crucial role in the treatment of SEA, and a careful history taking and physical examination could allow detection of the infectious source. Although the use of prophylactic antibiotics in intrauterinal procedures and in cases of incomplete abortion is controversial at present, further clinical trials to assess the necessity of antibiotic prophylaxis after D and C for abortion is necessary should be considered.

Ethical approval

Patient consent was obtained.

   References Top

1.Reihsaus E, Waldbaur H, Seeling W. Spinal epidural abscess: A meta-analysis of 915 patients. Neurosurg Rev 2000;23:175-204.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Sacks PC, Tchabo JG. Incidence of bacteremia at dilation and curettage. J Reprod Med 1992;37:331-4.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Leach RD, Eykyn SJ, Phillips I. Vaginal manipulation and anaerobic breast abscesses. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:610-1.   Back to cited text no. 3
4.Struthers GR, Scott DL, Farr M. Septic arthritis and thigh abscess after dilation and curettage. Clin Rheumatol 1984;3:71-3.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Scheepers NJ, van Bommel PF, Bleker OP. Psoas abscess related to spontaneous abortion, intra-uterine contraceptive device and curettage. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1993;72:223-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Yansouni CP, Ponette V, Rouleau D. Bacterial sacroiliitis and gluteal abscess after dilation and curettage for incomplete abortion. Obstet Gynecol 2009;114:440-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.May W, Gulmezoglu AM, Ba-Thike K. Antibiotics for incomplete abortion. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007;4:CD001779.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Sendi P, Bregenzer T, Zimmerli W. Spinal epidural abscess in clinical practice. QJM 2008;101:1-12.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Mader JT, Calhoun J. Osteomyelitis. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, editors. Principles and practice of infectious disease. 5 th ed. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone; 2000.p.1182-96.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Saeed MU, Mariani P, Martin C, Smego RA Jr, Potti A, Tight R, et al. Anaerobic spondylodiscitis: Case series and systematic review. South Med J 2005;98:144-8.  Back to cited text no. 10

Correspondence Address:
Takuya Ohkubo
Department of Neurology and Neurological Science, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-777X.96780

Rights and Permissions


  [Figure 1]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded34    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal

Sitemap | What's New | Feedback | Copyright and Disclaimer | Privacy Notice | Contact Us
2008 Journal of Global Infectious Diseases | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 10th December, 2008