Pott disease, also known as tuberculous spondylitis, is one of the oldest demonstrated diseases of humankind, having been documented in spinal remains from the Iron Age in Europe and in ancient mummies from Egypt and the Pacific coast of South America.
In 1779, Percivall Pott, for whom the disease is named, presented the classic description of spinal tuberculosis.
Spinal tuberculosis (STB) is a common manifestation of extrapulmonary tuberculosis (TB). STB accounts for around 2% of all cases of TB and around 15% of extrapulmonary TB cases. The World Health Organization has proposed a global strategy and targets for TB prevention, care, and control after 2015. Under this strategy, patients will receive standard care according to the recommendations and guidelines after confirmation of STB diagnosis. However, current recommendations and guidelines focus on disease and medication therapy management, and recommendations for early detection or decision-making algorithms regarding STB are lacking. In this review, we identified five key components for early diagnosis: (1) risk factors for STB; (2) common symptoms/signs of STB; (3) significant neuroradiological findings of STB; (4) significant laboratory findings of STB, including positive interferon-γ release assays and nonpyogenic evidence in initial laboratory data; and (5) significant clinical findings of STB. Individualized consideration for each patient with STB is essential, and we hope that the algorithm established in this review will provide a valuable tool for physicians who encounter cases of STB.