The clinical information and imaging data from 27 patients with hematogenous pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis were reviewed. All patients had roentgenographic and magnetic resonance imaging examinations. Seventeen patients had computed tomograms; 17 had technetium Tc 99m medronate bone scans; and seven had gallium citrate Ga 67 scans. Magnetic resonance imaging, when used as a part of the initial radiologic evaluation, detected abnormalities consistent with osteomyelitis in all 27 patients. Magnetic resonance imaging also demonstrated paravertebral and/or epidural extension of infection in 14 patients, including seven patients who had neurologic signs of lowerextremity weakness. Roentgenograms, computed tomograms, technetium bone scans, and gallium scans had findings suggestive of the diagnosis in 48%, 65%, 71%, and 86% of the patients, respectively. We recommend magnetic resonance imaging as an important and perhaps critical imaging modality for detection of pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis.
(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:683-687)