The caudal approach to the epidural space involves the use of a Tuohy needle, an intravenous catheter, or a hypodermic needle to puncture the sacrococcygeal membrane . Injecting local anaesthetic at this level can result in analgesia and/or anaesthesia of the perineum and groin areas. The caudal epidural technique is often used in infants and children undergoing surgery involving the groin, pelvis or lower extremities. In this population, caudal epidural analgesia is usually combined with general anaesthesia since most children do not tolerate surgery when regional anaesthesia is employed as the sole modality.
The clinical history, physical examination, and imaging is consistent with extensive destruction of the lumbar spine extending over three vertebral segments with associated epidural abcess necessitating surgical decompression and fusion. An epidural abscess may present rapidly with neurological compromise. Prognosis improves with prompt decompression, but only 18% of patients with frank abscess and 23% of patients with paralysis completely recover after decompression.
Hadjipavlou et al report in their Level 4 study that leukocyte counts were elevated in % of spondylodiscitis cases. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate was elevated in all cases of epidural abscess.
The article by Harrington et al states that the surgical indications for an epidural abcess include: unsuccessful antibiotic treatment after 6 weeks, vertebral deformity or instability, neurological deficit, MRI showing > 50% compression of thecal sac, and depressed host immune response.
Illustration A shows radiographs following anterior debridement, corpectomy, fibular strut grafting, and Kaneda instrumentation.