The unique complications of coccidioidomycosis of the spine: a detailed time line of disease progression and suppression.

Yuri M. Lewicky, Rolando Figueroa Roberto, Stephen L. Curtin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN: A case report is presented. OBJECTIVE: We report a detailed time-line of disease progression and suppression in a patient with disseminated Coccidioidomycosis of the spine. The importance of consistent and thorough treatment to prevent disease recurrence is underscored. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Coccidioides immitis is a dimorphic fungus that lives as a saprophyte in arid, alkaline soils and as a parasite in the tissues of its host. Endemic to the arid soil of the American Southwest and Central and South America, its disease prevalence is increasing. There are 100,000 new infections diagnosed each year, of which 34% are symptomatic. Of the symptomatic individuals 5-10% will develop a serious pulmonary infection and of those that have a serious infection less than 1% will develop chronic pulmonary disease and/or extrapulmonary dissemination. METHODS: A 36-year-old black woman with a 3-year history of recent migration to the desert Southwest and a family history of sarcoidosis presented to her primary care physician with shortness of breath and a cough of 2 months' duration. An anterior-posterior radiograph revealed bilateral hilar lymphadenopathy and sarcoidosis was diagnosed. The patient was placed on oral prednisone and progressively worsened. She was referred to the Orthopedic Clinic with a complaint of severe back pain. RESULTS: Plain radiographs of the lumbar spine revealed lytic erosion of the sacral promontory. Computed tomography confirmed the sacral lesion in addition to revealing involvement of the fifth lumbar vertebral body. Over the ensuing years the patient underwent a course of operative and chemotherapeutic therapies. She endured numerous complications of the disease, one of which is being reported for the first time. Control of her disease has been accomplished through radical surgical debridement, spinal stabilization with concomitant local and systemic chemotherapy. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence and distribution of Coccidioidomycosis is increasing as is the likelihood of seeing its often unique and bizarre clinical manifestations and complications. If included in the differential diagnosis, the disease can be recognized earlier and the likelihood of numerous complications can be avoided. Once bony involvement is diagnosed a regimen of aggressive surgical debridement as well as consistent chemotherapy must be employed if remission and/or eradication of the illness are sought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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