Spinal Epidural Abscess Associated With the Use of Temporary Epidural Catheters: Report of Two Cases and Review

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Spinal epidural abscess has rarely been associated with the use of epidural catheters. We describe two patients with epidural abscesses that occurred in relation to the use of temporary epidural catheters; a literature review yielded 20 additional well-described cases. The mean age of these 22 patients was 49.9 years, the median duration of epidural catheter use was 3 days, and the median time to onset of clinical symptoms after catheter placement was 5 days. The majority of patients (63.6%) had major neurological deficits, and 22.7% also had concomitant meningitis. Staphylococcus aureus was the predominant pathogen. Despite antibiotic therapy and drainage procedures, 38% of the patients continued to have neurological deficits. These unusual but serious complications of temporary epidural catheter use require efficient and accurate diagnostic evaluation, as they can be substantial.