Back pain

Nicholas Santavicca, Michael E. Winters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter presents a case study of 63-year-old man presented to the emergency department (ED) with a chief complaint of "low back pain". It focuses on the clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of select life-threatening emergencies in elderly patients with acute back pain. Computed tomography (CT) with intravenous contrast has become the diagnostic study of choice to confirm aortic dissection (AD). The ED management of elderly patients with AD centers on control of the heart rate and blood pressure. Laboratory evaluation of the older adult patient with suspected vertebral osteomyelitis (VOM) often includes a complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP), and blood cultures. The ED treatment of patients with VOM centers on antibiotic therapy and consultation with either neurosurgery or orthopedic surgery. Spinal cord compression from metastatic malignancies is a back pain emergency that must be diagnosed promptly to prevent further disability and death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGeriatric Emergencies
Subtitle of host publicationA Discussion-based Review
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781118753262
ISBN (Print)9781118753347
StatePublished - May 31 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Aortic dissection
  • Back pain
  • Blood count
  • Computed tomography
  • CRP
  • Elderly patient
  • ESR
  • Vertebral osteomyelitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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