Q:

What is Pott's disease?

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Quick Answer

Pott's disease, also known as tuberculous spondylitis or angular kyphosis, is a bacterial infection of the spine by tuberculosis pathogens, reports Patient.co.uk. Although tuberculosis more commonly infects the lungs, the Mayo Clinic notes that it can infect other parts of the body.

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Full Answer

Pott's disease was named after Dr. Percival Pott, the English surgeon who discovered it, states Patient.co.uk. The disease involves tuberculosis bacteria spreading from the lungs to the spinal tissue via the bloodstream.

It can cause tissue destruction and holes in the tissue, also known as caries. Therefore, another alternative name for Pott's disease is Pott's caries.

Due to the holes created by the infection, people with Pott's disease may present with arthritis, as reported by Patient.co.uk, or with severe back pain, as described in Nature.com. The holes and severe pain can even mimic a compression fracture from mechanical stress, such as a fall.

The way in which Pott's disease mimics compression fractures is by infecting the discs in between the bones of the spine, as described by Patient.co.uk. Once the bacteria kill off the spinal tissue in the two adjoining bones, and the disc in between, the spine is liable to pancake in on itself, causing terrible pain to the patient and presenting cracks in the bone.

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