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Pott's Disease
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 A18.0, M49.0
ICD-9 015.0
MeSH D014399
Tuberculosis of the spine in an Egyptian mummy

Pott's disease, is a presentation of extrapulmonary tuberculosis that affects the spine, a kind of tuberculous arthritis of the intervertebral joints. It is named after Percivall Pott (1714-1788), a London surgeon who trained at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London. The lower thoracic and upper lumbar vertebrae are the areas of the spine most often affected. Scientifically, it is called tuberculous spondylitis and it is most commonly localized in the thoracic portion of the spine. Pott’s disease results from haematogenous spread of tuberculosis from other sites, often pulmonary. The infection then spreads from two adjacent vertebrae into the adjoining intervertebral disc space. If only one vertebra is affected, the disc is normal, but if two are involved the disc, which is avascular, cannot receive nutrients and collapses. The disc tissue dies and is broken down by caseation, leading to vertebral narrowing and eventually to vertebral collapse and spinal damage. A dry soft tissue mass often forms and superinfection is rare.


Signs and symptoms


Late complications


Controlling the spread of tuberculosis infection can prevent tuberculous spondylitis and arthritis. Patients who have a positive PPD test (but not active tuberculosis) may decrease their risk by properly taking medicines to prevent tuberculosis. To effectively treat tuberculosis, it is crucial that patients take their medications exactly as prescribed.


  • non-operative - antituberculous drugs
  • analgesics
  • immobilization of the spine region by rod (Hull)
  • Surgery may be necessary, especially to drain spinal abscesses or to stabilize the spine
  • Richards intramedullary hip screw - facilitating for bone healing
  • Kuntcher Nail - intramedullary rod
  • Austin Moore - intrameduallary rod (for Hemiarthroplasty)

Cultural references

The fictional Hunchback of Notre Dame had a gibbous deformity (humpback) that is thought to have been caused by tuberculosis. In Henrik Ibsen's play "A Doll's House," Dr. Rank suffers from "consumption of the spine." Furthermore, Jocelin, the Dean who wanted a spire on his cathedral in William Golding's "The Spire" probably suffered and died as a result of this disease. The 18th-century English poet Alexander Pope suffered from Pott's disease. Anna Roosevelt Cowles, sister of president Theodore Roosevelt, suffered from Pott's Disease. Chick Webb, swing era drummer and band leader, was afflicted with tuberculosis of the spine as a child, which left him hunchbacked. Morton, the railroad magnate in Once Upon a Time in the West, suffers from the disease and needs crutches to walk.

External links



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