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The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of spinal tuberculosis (TB) in the US between 2002 and 2011.
The Nationwide Inpatient Sample database from 2002 to 2011 was used to identify patients with a discharge diagnosis of TB and spinal TB. Demographic and hospital data were obtained for all admissions, and included age, sex, race, comorbid conditions, insurance status, hospital location, hospital teaching status, and hospital region. The incidence rate of spinal TB adjusted for population growth was calculated after application of discharge weights.
A total of 75,858 patients with a diagnosis of TB were identified, of whom 2789 had a diagnosis of spinal TB (3.7%); this represents an average of 278.9 cases per year between 2002 and 2011. The incidence of spinal TB decreased significantly—from 0.07 cases per 100,000 persons in 2002 to 0.05 cases per 100,000 in 2011 (p < 0.001), corresponding to 1 case per 2 million persons in the latter year. The median age for patients with spinal TB was 51 years, and 61% were male; 11.6% were patients with diabetes, 11.4% reported recent weight loss, and 8.1% presented with paralysis. There were 619 patients who underwent spinal surgery for TB, with the most common location being the thoracolumbar spine (61.9% of cases); 50% of patients had instrumentation of 3 or more spinal segments.
During the examined 10-year period, the incidence of spinal TB was found to significantly decrease over time in the US, reaching a rate of 1 case per 2 million persons in 2011. However, the absolute reduction was relatively small, suggesting that although it is uncommon, spinal TB remains a public health concern and most commonly affects male patients approximately 50 years of age. Approximately 20% of patients with spinal TB underwent surgery, most commonly in the thoracolumbar spine.