Charles Court, Céline Charlez, Véronique Molina, Didier Clerc, Anne Miquel, Jacques Yves Nordin

October 2004, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 711 - 715 Ideas and Technical Innovations Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-004-0791-4

First Online: 12 October 2004

A case of an isolated lesion of the thoracic spine attributed to SAPHO syndrome is presented. A 51-year-old man was referred for inflammatory pain in the thoracic spine. The general examination was normal (especially cutaneous and rheumatologic examinations). Laboratory analysis showed only a mild inflammatory reaction. Standard radiographs showed partial condensation of T8. Computed tomography showed osteolysis of the anterior corner of T8, and MRI revealed an abnormal signal of T8, with enlargement of the prevertebral soft tissue. Percutaneous and thoracoscopic biopsies showed a nonspecific inflammatory process, and cultures were sterile. Initially, several diagnoses were advanced: infectious spondylitis, malignant tumor, lymphomas, Paget disease, seronegative spondyloarthropathies and finally atypical SAPHO syndrome. Three months later, the patient experienced more pain. General examination was still normal. The radiological findings worsened, while the inflammatory blood tests were normal. A new thoracoscopic biopsy revealed a nonspecific inflammatory process. A diagnosis of SAPHO syndrome was made, despite the lack of typical lesions. Dramatically improving with anti-inflammatory therapy, the patient’s condition was favorable at 3-year follow-up. This atypical presentation of an isolated lesion in the spine makes the diagnosis of a SAPHO syndrome difficult but possible. Spine surgeons must be aware of this rare entity, to avoid misdiagnosis and unnecessary repeated surgical biopsies.

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