Infection is a common complication of advanced diabetic foot disease, increasing the risk of acute admission and amputation. It is less well-known that foot ulceration and osteomyelitis may cause bacteraemia-associated hematogenous seeding and subsequent epidural abscess formation. Here we describe the case of a 57-year-old woman with known diabetic foot ulcer with underlying osteomyelitis admitted with backpain in the absence of trauma. Her condition deteriorated secondary to overwhelming sepsis. MRI of the spine confirmed spondylodiscitis and posterior epidural collection, not amenable to surgical intervention due to patient’s comorbidities and high surgical risk. Despite prolonged antibiotic therapy, the patient died following a hospital admission lasting 2.5 months. This case highlights the importance of regular contact with diabetes foot service for optimisation and prompt treatment of diabetic foot disease, which can be an underestimated potential source of remote site invasive systemic infection. Secondly, high clinical suspicion in admitting clinicians is imperative in ensuring timely diagnosis and early intervention to minimise fatal consequences.
- Approximately 10% of patients with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer in their lifetime.
- Spondylodiscitis (incorporating vertebral osteomyelitis, spondylitis and discitis) is a rare condition and diabetes is the most common predisposing risk factor.
- Spondylodiscitis often presents with no other symptom other than back pain. Neurological or infective symptoms can be present or absent.
- High clinical suspicion in clinicians is imperative in ensuring timely diagnosis and early intervention to minimise devastating consequences.