Discography is a controversial diagnostic procedure involving the injection of radiographic contrast medium (RCM) into the intervertebral disc. Iatrogenic bacterial discitis is a rare but serious complication. The intervention has been increasingly performed in our patients here in the United Arab Emirates. Prophylactic intravenous antibiotic administration can reduce post-interventional discitis; however, this may favour the development of bacterial resistance. Direct intradiscal injection of an antibiotic together with the RCM is a potential alternative. To date, there has been only one study on the efficacy of antibiotics added to an RCM. Equally, there are only limited data regarding the potential direct effect of RCM on bacterial growth. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the efficacy of antibiotics is affected when RCM are added. In an in vitro study, the effect of non-ionic RCM on the growth of five laboratory bacterial strains, alone and in combination with three broad-spectrum antimicrobials, was tested. Bacterial growth was assessed in the absence and the presence of RCM, antibiotics and their combinations. All three RCM alone demonstrated some inhibition of bacterial growth at high concentrations. In the presence of the RCM, all three antibiotics retained their inhibitory effect on bacterial growth. In conclusion, our in vitro experiments did not reveal any changes in the antimicrobial efficacy of the three antibiotics in the presence of the three tested RCM. Subsequent clinical trials will need to assess whether intradiscal antibiotic administration may be a suitable substitute for, or a supplement to, prophylactic systemic antibiotics before discography.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging