Bone & joints


Septic arthritis

Last author update: 1 March 2013
Last staff update: 1 May 2023

Copyright: 2002-2023,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Septic arthritis [title]

Vijay Shankar, M.D.
Page views in 2022: 3,398
Page views in 2023 to date: 1,590
Cite this page: Shankar V. Septic arthritis. website. Accessed June 6th, 2023.
Definition / general
  • Due to seeding of joint during bacteremia, most commonly Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, gram negative rods; rarely syphilis
  • Also due to postsurgical infection
  • Neonates: often due to osteomyelitis; hip more common than ankle or knee
  • Young women: usually gonorrhea, associated with multiple joint involvement, including knee
  • Sickle cell disease: Salmonella
  • Risk factors: immune deficiencies, severe illness, joint trauma, chronic arthritis, intravenous drug abuse
  • Symptoms: sudden development of acutely painful and swollen joint with restricted range of motion, systemic findings
  • Usually single joint (knee, hip, shoulder)
  • Aspiration of joint under radiologic guidance
Case reports
  • Immediate surgical incision and drainage, immobilization and antibiotics
Clinical images

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Ankle joint

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Neutrophils (also Behcet disease, familial Mediterranean fever)
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