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Isolated Involvement of the Posterior Elements in Spinal TuberculosisA Review of Twenty-four Cases
Sumit Arora, MS(Ortho), DNB(Ortho)1; Dhananjaya Sabat, MS(Ortho), DNB(Ortho)1; Lalit Maini, MS(Ortho)1; Sumit Sural, MS(Ortho)1; Vinod Kumar, MS(Ortho), DNB(Ortho)1; V.K. Gautam, MS(Ortho), DNB(Ortho)1; Ajay Gupta, MS(Ortho)1; Anil Dhal, MS(Ortho)1
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Maulana Azad Medical College and Associated Lok Nayak Hospital, New Delhi, 110002 India. E-mail address for S. Arora: mamc_309@yahoo.co.in
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Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, the Maulana Azad Medical College and Associated Lok Nayak Hospital, New Delhi, India

Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. None of the authors, or their institution(s), have had any financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with any entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, no author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 Oct 17;94(20):e151 1-8. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.01464
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The literature on tuberculosis of the posterior spinal elements without involvement of the vertebral body is scarce. In this study we report our experience with twenty-four cases of neural arch tuberculosis that were treated at our center.


We performed a retrospective review of the clinical and radiographic data of twenty-four consecutive patients who had tuberculosis of the posterior spinal elements with total sparing of the vertebral bodies and intervertebral disc space. We categorized the patients into two groups on the basis of the clinical and radiographic evaluation. The patients who had rapid onset weakness of the lower limbs or pyramidal signs or who showed evidence of epidural abscess underwent emergency decompressive laminectomy (Group A). Patients who had pyomyositis of the posterior spinal muscles without any neurological deficit, pyramidal signs, or epidural abscess were managed with antitubercular therapy alone (Group B).


The common presenting features were spastic limb weakness and back pain. The majority of the patients had involvement of the thoracic spine. Epidural abscess, erosion of lamina, and pyomyositis of posterior spinal muscles were common imaging findings. Group A consisted of nineteen patients and Group B consisted of five patients. The mean period of follow-up was 16.9 months (range, nine to sixty months). Patients in Group A had a poorer outcome than those in Group B. Thirteen of the nineteen patients in Group A improved to become independent in the activities of daily living, with complete neurological recovery in eight patients and partial recovery in five patients. Six of the nineteen patients continued to have spastic paraplegia and were wheelchair-dependent. All of the patients in Group B remained neurologically intact during the follow-up period. None of the patients had recurrence of the disease or developed anterior element involvement or kyphotic deformity during the follow-up period.


Neural arch tuberculosis is often missed at the time of initial presentation. In association with epidural abscess, it leads to rapid neurological deterioration. This atypical picture of spinal tuberculosis showed a high rate of neurological deficit at the time of initial presentation for medical care.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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