Septic Arthritis - Treatment

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How is septic arthritis treated?

Septic arthritis is treated with antibiotics and drainage of the infected joint (synovial) fluid from the joint.

Optimally, antibiotics are given immediately. Often, intravenous antibiotics are administered in a hospital setting. The choice of antibiotics can be guided by the results of the culture of joint fluid. Until those results are known, empiric antibiotics are chosen to cover a wider range of possible infectious agents. Sometimes, combinations of antibiotics are given. Antibiotics can be required for four to six weeks.

Drainage is essential for rapid clearing of the infection. Drainage can be done by regular aspirations with a needle and syringe, often daily early on, or via surgical procedures. Arthroscopy can be used to irrigate the joint and remove infected joint lining tissue. If adequate drainage cannot be accomplished with joint aspirations or arthroscopy, open joint surgery is used to drain the joint. After arthroscopy or open joint surgery, drains are sometimes left in place to drain excess fluid that can accumulate after the procedure.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: coco, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: December 30

I walked a 5km cancer walk, then worked the next day 12 hours with no problems. When I returned home the right knee swelled and I couldn't walk at all. The pain was unbearable. I went to the doctor. They scheduled test in about 10 days. The pain was extreme so I called the doctor and wanted to go to the hospital. They told me to wait or my insurance wouldn't pay the hospital bill, as I had scheduled test. Like a fool I waited for a few more days till I couldnt take the pain anymore. I went to the hospital and after some testing they drained a large amount of fluid out of my knee. It was infected. I also had MRSA. To cut this a little short I've had 4 surgeries and several other drainings and knee adjustments. It's been 4 months since I've walked or driven. I'm in therapy 3 times a week trying to straighten and bend this knee. The surgeon wants to install a new knee but can't because if you have an infection it will attack an artificial joint so I have to wait a year till infection is gone.

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Comment from: frosty, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: October 21

I had septic arthritis in both knees and one wrist. I was in ICU for 3 weeks then HDU for 3 weeks. Initially my knees and thighs became incredibly swollen, painful and I couldn't stand up. Doctor sent me by emergency ambulance to hospital where it was fortunately diagnosed immediately and treatment of strong antibiotics and five washouts on each knee and wrist was carried out. I was unconscious for the first 3 weeks with tracheostomy and kidney machine, etc., as the poison took over my body. I am lucky to be alive and know that septic arthritis can be a killer. It is now 7 months and I am only just walking with a frame as my quadriceps have severely atrophied. This disease should never be taken lightly.

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