Septic Arthritis: Diagnosis and Treatment

Am Fam Physician. 2021 Dec 1;104(6):589-597.ABSTRACTSeptic arthritis must be considered and promptly diagnosed in any patient presenting with acute atraumatic joint pain, swelling, and fever. Risk factors for septic arthritis include age older than 80 years, diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, recent joint surgery, hip or knee prosthesis, skin infection, and immunosuppressive medication use. A delay in diagnosis and treatment can result in permanent morbidity and mortality. Physical examination findings and serum markers, including erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein, are helpful in the diagnosis but are nonspecific. Synovial fluid studies are required to confirm the diagnosis. History and Gram stain aid in determining initial antibiotic selection. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common pathogen isolated in septic arthritis; however, other bacteria, viruses, fungi, and mycobacterium can cause the disease. After synovial fluid has been obtained, empiric antibiotic therapy should be initiated if there is clinical concern for septic arthritis. Oral antibiotics can be given in most cases because they are not inferior to intravenous therapy. Total duration of therapy ranges from two to six weeks; however, certain infections require longer courses. Consideration for microorganisms such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Borrelia burgdorferi, and fungal infections should be based on history findings and laboratory results.PMID:34913662
Source: American Family Physician - Category: Primary Care Authors: Source Type: research