Staphylococcus epidermidis, present in 4 cases (6.6%), should be suspected in elderly patients with previous intravenous cannulations (3 of 4 cases). The most frequent risk factors were alcoholism (7 cases), chronic hepatic disease (7 cases), diabetes (6 cases) and previous surgery (6 cases). Delay in diagnosis was high (the mean number of days between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis was 125).
The lumbar region was the most commonly affected site. Neurologic involvement was present in 10 patients on admission (16%). ESR was > 50 mm/hr in a high number of cases. Blood cultures were found to be the most valuable routine test. Plain x-rays were normal in 10 patients (16%); in 6 of them Staphylococcus aureus was the responsible organism. Other imaging modalities showed a high sensitivity. Surgical drainage was necessary in 12 individuals (in 7 due to Mycobacterium tuberculosis). Outcome was good in the majority of cases: only 2 patients with associated endocarditis died. Neurologic sequelae were present in another 3 patients.