Fungal Arthritis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

What causes fungal arthritis?

Fungal arthritis is usually caused by the fungus traveling through the bloodstream to reside in the joint. This manner of infection through the blood is referred to as hematogenous spread.

Alternatively, if medication that is contaminated by fungus is directly injected into the joint, fungal arthritis can result. This manner of infection by directly injecting the fungus into the joint is referred to as exogenous inoculation. Rarely, fungal infection can result from a contaminated prosthesis used in joint replacement surgery.

Fungal organisms that can cause fungal arthritis include Candida, Aspergillus, and Exserohilum species.

What are risks for developing fungal arthritis?

Fungal arthritis in people with normal immune systems is rare. One risk for developing fungal arthritis in such people is the accidental injection of medications that are contaminated with fungus microbes in the vials used. This, in fact, was the situation when contaminated vials of medications produced by a compounding pharmacy (New England Compounding Center) caused a multistate outbreak of rare fungal meningitis and fungal arthritis in September 2012.

People with abnormally suppressed immune systems are at risk for fungal infections, including fungal arthritis. This includes people with severely low white blood counts (neutropenia), HIV infection, injection drug abusers, and those taking chronic cortisone medication.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/2/2016

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