• The spine is the commonest site of bone and joint tuberculosis.
  • Dorso-lumbar region affected most frequently.

Types of vertebral tuberculosis:

1. Paradiscal: commonest type

2. Central:

  • Single vertebra is affected.
  • This leads to early collapse of the weakened vertebra.
  • The nearby disc may be normal.
  • The collapse may be a ‘wedging’ or ‘concertina’ collapse 

 3. Anterior:

  • infection is localised to the anterior part of the vertebral body.

 4. Posterior:

  • the posterior complex of the vertebra i.e., the pedicle, lamina, spinous process and transverse process are affected.


  • Pain (back pain)
  • Stiffness
  • Cold abscess
  • Paraplegia
  • Deformity: increasing prominence of the spine – gibbus.
  • Constitutional symptoms: Symptoms like fever, weight loss etc.


X-ray examination:

  • Reduction of disc space: earliest sign  
  • Destruction of the vertebral body 

Evidence of cold abscess:

1). Para-vertebral abscess-

  1. fusiform para-vertebral abscess (bird nest abscess – an abscess whose length is greater than its width (Fig-23.7a);
  2. globular or tense abscess – an abscess whose width is greater than the length

2). Widened mediastinum-

3). Retro-pharyngeal abscess

4). Psoas abscess

  • Rarefaction: diffuse rarefaction of the vertebrae above and below the lesion.
  • Unusual signs: erosion of the posterior elements of pedicle, lamina etc.
  • Signs of healing

CT scan:

  • very useful investigation in cases presenting as ‘spinal tumour syndrome’.


  • Investigation of choice to evaluate the type and extent of compression of the cord.

Other investigations:

  • ESR, Mantoux test, ELISA test for detecting anti- tubercular antibodies, chest X-ray, etc.,


  1. Cold abscess:  commonest complication of TB of the spine.
  2. Neurological compression: At times the patient presents as a case of spinal tumour syndrome.
  • First clinical symptom being a neurological deficit.

Exam Important

  • Tuberculosis in Pott’s disease involves Spine.
  • Pott’s spine is commonest at Thoracolumbar spine.
  • Tuberculosis of spine is common at Thoracolumbar.
  • Most common cause of cold abscess of chest wall is Pott’s spine.
  • Commonest presenting symptom of Pott’s spine is Back pain.
  • The paradiscal type is M/C type of vertebral tuberculosis.
  • Wedging or Concertina collapse: in central type.
  • Pott’s disease: M/C cause for kyphosis & cold abscess.
  • Earliest radiological sign of spine tuberculosis is reduction of intervertebral disc space.
  • M/C complication of spine tuberculosis cold abscess.
  • Investigation of choice- MRI.
  • M/c performed surgery- Antero lateral decompression.
  • TB of spine à bony ankylosis, other bones & joints a fibrous ankylosis.
Don’t Forget to Solve all the previous Year Question asked on TUBERCULOSIS OF SPINE (Pott’s disease)

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