Outcome and Management of Spinal Tuberculosis According to the Severity of Disease: A Retrospective Study of 137 Adult Patients at Korean Teaching Hospitals

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Study Design.

A retrospective study examining the clinical features, management, and treatment outcome of patients with spinal tuberculosis (TB).


To determine the influence of disease severity and treatment modality on outcome of patients with spinal TB.

Summary of Background Data.

Although anti-TB chemotherapy is now the mainstay treatment for spinal TB, it may not be applicable to all situations, especially in patients with risk of deformity, instability, and progression of neurologic deficit.


In this retrospective study (1994–2003), medical records and radiographic findings of patients with spinal TB were reviewed at 7 teaching hospitals in South Korea. The duration of triple chemotherapy with isoniazid, rifampin, and ethambutol, disease severity, operative procedures, and outcome were analyzed. The outcome was assessed as both favorable and unfavorable according to predefined criteria.


A total of 137 patients were diagnosed with spinal TB during the study period. Twenty-one patients were lost to follow-up and excluded from analysis. The mean age was 44.07 ± 16.57 years. The most common vertebral area involved was the lumbar (44.8%). The mean number of vertebra involved was 2.25. The mean angle of kyphosis was 21.58°. Forty-seven patients (35.1%) had severe symptoms. Radical surgery was carried out in 84 (62.2%) patients. Twenty patients were treated with short-term chemotherapy, while 96 under long-term. At the end of chemotherapy, 94 patients had achieved a favorable status and 22 an unfavorable one. Statistically, there was no significant difference between the 2 groups in terms of gender, chemotherapy duration, or the severity of spinal TB; however, age (P = 0.025; odds ratio = 0.963; 95% confidence interval 0.932–0.995) and radical surgery (P = 0.043; odds ratio = 3.047; 95% confidence interval 1.038–8.942) were significantly related to a favorable outcome by logistic analysis.


Our results showed that a younger age and radical surgery in conjunction with anti-TB chemotherapy were significant favorable prognostic factors.

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