A 65-year-old male with a history of hypertension presents to the emergency department (ED) with new onset of non-traumatic back pain. The patient is investigated for life-threatening diagnoses and screened for “red flag symptoms,” including fever, neurologic abnormalities, bowel/bladder symptoms, and a history of injectiondrug use (IVDU). The patient is treated symptomatically and discharged home but represents to the ED three additional times, each time with new and progressive symptoms. At the time of admission, he is unable to ambulate, has perineal anesthesia, and 500 cc of urinary retention. Whole spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) confirms a thoracic spinal epidural abscess. This case, and many like it, prompts the questions: when should emergency physicians consider the diagnosis of a spinal epidural abscess, and what is the appropriate evaluation of these patients in the ED? (Figure 1).