Percutaneous image-guided biopsy currently has a central role in the diagnostic work-up of patients with suspected spondylodiscitis. However, on the basis of recent evidence, the value of routine image-guided biopsy in this disease can be challenged. In this article, we discuss this recent evidence and also share a new diagnostic algorithm for spondylodiscitis that was recently introduced at our institution. Thus, we may move from a rather dogmatic approach in which routine image-guided biopsy is performed in any case to a more individualized use of this procedure.
Percutaneous image-guided biopsy, while valuable, is an invasive procedure, and evidence has shown rather disappointing positive microbiologic culture yields of around 33%. Recent evidence also has shown that percutaneous image-guided biopsy rarely adds any new information when blood cultures have positive findings and that an effective empiric treatment can be started in most of cases even when the microbiologic culprit remains unknown. Finally, there is currently no evidence that percutaneous image-guided biopsy improves patient outcome.