Infectious complications, such as bacterial meningitis and epidural abscess, have the most favorable outcomes, with most patients in the Swedish study making a full recovery.
The best medical outcomes rely on early diagnosis. Fever and backache are clearly the most common symptoms, although neurologic changes may be present as well.
Typically, it takes about 5 days for onset of symptoms. Staphylococcus species are the most commonly identified culprits. And treatment may include antibiotic therapy or even surgery to decompress the spinal cord.
Meningitis is exclusively related to spinal blocks and results from puncture of the dura. Typically, meningitis manifests within 24 hours as headache or neurologic changes.
“Early infectious processes are more likely to be meningitis than epidural abscesses,” Dr. Mayer said. In the Swedish study, streptococci were responsible for most of the meningitis cases.