Discuss the relative value of different laboratory tests in the diagnosis of pyogenic vertebral infection

The ESR is elevated in more than 90% of patients with infection but is nonspecific and may be normal in the presence of low virulence organisms. CRP is typically elevated in pyogenic infections and is considered more specific than ESR. The leukocyte count is a less reliable indicator of spinal infection with elevation greater than 10,000 noted in less than half of cases. Blood cultures, although helpful if positive, yield the causative organism in only one quarter to one half of cases.

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