Although rare in children, spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is a rapidly progressive clinical entity that can lead to irreversible neurologic damage if untreated. The rarity and variability in presentation can lead to initial misdiagnosis. Diagnosis requires a high index of suspicion and is often delayed until neurologic deficits are present. This issue reviews key findings on the history and physical examination that are associated with SEA, provides guidance for the laboratory tests and imaging studies that are indicated once SEA is suspected, and discusses treatment options based on current evidence.
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Following are the most informative references cited in this paper, as determined by the authors.
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Keywords: spinal epidural abscess, SEA, pediatric spine infection, stages of spinal epidural abscess
Bahareh Ravandi, MD; Christine S. Cho, MD, MPH, MEd
Winnie Whitaker, MD; Amy Z. Zhou, MD, PhD
June 2, 2022
July 2, 2025