Osteodiscitis | MicroGen Diagnostics


Osteodiscitis is a spinal infection that develops between the discs in the spine. An infection can cause swelling in the spaces between the discs and the bones in the spine (vertebrae), causing pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion in the neck or back, depending on which discs are affected.

Although it is relatively uncommon, osteodiscitis is serious and delaying treatment or a misdiagnosis can lead to severe infection, neurological problems, and rarely, death. Most people can be cured with antibiotics, but identifying the correct organism is critical. That’s why it’s important to get tested as early as possible after the infection starts with a MicroGenDX test that can pinpoint the specific organism that is causing the infection. Early treatment may also negate the need for surgery.

Osteodiscitis Infection Symptoms

Common symptoms include:

  • Back or neck pain or stiffness
  • Posture changes
  • Difficulty doing daily tasks that require moving around
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever

MicroGenDX Tests Can Diagnose an Osteodiscitis Infection

You will need a laboratory test that your doctor can order to determine the cause of your osteodiscitis. Sometimes the cause of the infection might be difficult to identify. An evaluation and culture (growing microbes from your sample in a lab) are often used to diagnose infections. However, standard cultures might come back negative even when you actually do have an infection, and that means your infection won’t be treated. Instead of relying on culture, a MicroGenDX test detects the DNA of all microbes in your sample along with how much of each microbe is present. MicroGenDX then uses that information to determine the drugs that can best treat the infection. You can order a SurgeryKEY test here:


Your doctor may also do imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), along with blood sample analysis, to confirm an infection.

Providing Samples for MicroGenDX Tests

Getting a good sample is important in the diagnosis of spinal infections such as osteodiscitis. To collect a sample, your doctor will use one or all of these methods:

  • Sterile swabs
  • Fluid
  • CaptiGen flat swabs
  • Tissue

Everything your doctor needs to know about how samples for the SurgeryKEY test are taken is included with the SurgeryKEY test and is also available online on the product page. The instructions included with your test contain illustrations that will help you to help your doctor collect a sample without contaminating it. It is always important to obtain a proper sample by following the instructions for collecting the sample, as well as when packaging and shipping it. For example, regardless of the method used, be sure not to contaminate the sample by touching it with your hands.

Medical Specialties Treating an Osteodiscitis Infection

Diagnosis and successful treatment can involve a team of experts such as a radiologist, an infectious diseases specialist, an orthopedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon. Prompt identification is important to prevent potentially serious complications.

How an Osteodiscitis Infection is Treated

In many cases the right antibiotic alone – usually taken for four to six weeks – will cure osteodiscitis. It is important to know that not all antibiotics work for all bacteria, and some even work differently in different areas of the body. All MicroGenDX diagnostic tests include detection of antibiotic resistance genes in your sample and provide alternative antibiotics for your doctor to consider prescribing to you. Your doctor should consult the “antimicrobials for consideration” chart on your MicroGenDX report to decide which treatment is right for you.

It is also important to complete the full course of medication as it is prescribed, even when symptoms begin to clear up. Stopping early can lead to complications. In addition, your doctor may recommend bed rest, changes to your daily activities, and possibly wearing a back brace or other support. In rare, severe cases, surgery may be needed.

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