Infective spondylodiscitis in patients on high-flux hemodialysis and on-line hemodiafiltration
de Silva, S.
Infective spondylodiscitis (ISD) is a rare but potentially devastating condition in hemodialysis (HD) patients. Reports are limited especially in patients receiving high-flux HD and hemodiafiltration (HDF). In a retrospective analysis, 13 patients on our maintenance high-flux HD/HDF program were identified as having has infective spondylodiscitis over a 10-year period (1997–2006), an incidence of approximately 1 episode every 215 patient-years. The incidence was around 3 times higher in patients dialyzing with tunnelled central venous catheters (TCVC) than in those with arteriovenous fistulae. Affected patients were elderly (mean age 70 years) and had multiple comorbidities. Access problems, particularly TCVC infection, were common in the months preceding it's onset. Tunnelled central venous catheter removal during these episodes did not necessarily prevent it. Diagnosis was based on a history of back pain, raised C-reactive protein, positive blood cultures, and characteristic magnetic resonance findings. Many patients were apyrexial and had normal white cell counts. In our patients on high-flux HD/hemodiafiltration, its incidence appears comparable to that in conventional HD settings. No patients had infection with waterborne organisms. Blood cultures were positive in 77%. Gram-positive organisms predominated, particularly Staphylococcus aureus. The major route of infection was hematogenous, with the most likely source the venous access. All received antibiotics for 6 to 12 weeks or until death. Only 2 patients underwent surgical drainage. Mortality was high (46%) and predicted by the development of complications, and by pre-existing cardiovascular comorbidity. Prevention, using strategies to reduce the prevalence of bacteremia, including limiting the use of TCVC, should be an overriding aim.