Association between sciatica and Propionibacterium acnes

Stirling, Alistair, Worthington, Tony, Rafiq, Mohammed, Lambert, Peter A. and Elliott, Tom S.J. (2001). Association between sciatica and Propionibacterium acnes. The Lancet, 357 (9273), pp. 2024-2025.


We hypothesised that the inflammation seen around the nerve root in patients with sciatica may be caused by microbial infection. We used a newly developed serological test to diagnose deep-seated infections caused by low virulent gram-positive microorganisms. 43 of 140 (31%) patients with sciatica tested positive. Intervertebral disc material from a further 36 patients with severe sciatica who had undergone microdiscectomy was cultured for the presence of microorganisms. 19 of these patients (53%) had positive cultures after long-term incubation. Propionibacterium acnes was isolated from 16 of the 19 (84%) positive samples. Low virulent microorganisms, in particular P acnes, might be causing a chronic low-grade infection in the lower intervertebral discs of patients with severe sciatica. These microorganisms could have gained access to the spinal disc after previous minor trauma.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: Life & Health Sciences > Biosciences
Life & Health Sciences
Life & Health Sciences > Pharmacy
Aston University (General)
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
Published Date: 2001-06-23
Authors: Stirling, Alistair
Worthington, Tony ( 0000-0002-1906-3357)
Rafiq, Mohammed
Lambert, Peter A. ( 0000-0002-8243-2741)
Elliott, Tom S.J.


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