Septic Arthritis - Diagnosis

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How is septic arthritis diagnosed?

Septic arthritis is diagnosed by identifying infected joint fluid. Joint fluid can easily be removed sterilely in the office, clinic, or hospital with a needle and syringe. The fluid is analyzed in a laboratory to determine if there is an elevated number of white blood cells to suggest inflammation. A culture of the joint fluid can identify the particular microbe and determine its susceptibility to a variety of antibiotics.

X-ray studies of the joint can be helpful to detect injury of bone adjacent to the joint. MRI scanning is very sensitive in evaluating joint destruction. Blood tests are frequently used to detect and monitor inflammation. These tests include the white blood cell count, sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: frank, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: November 06

My knee started to hurt one night and by next day I was in agony. After 3 trips to Accident & Emergency, 2 to the doctor and 3 to a fracture clinic (unbelievably) they finally took a blood test. I was admitted and had 2 washouts and was on a drip for 3 weeks. I had a manipulation 2 months later, spent 10 months unable to walk without severe pain and finally had a knee replacement. Septic arthritis is bad news.

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Comment from: Aussie74, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: November 18

I strained my back during spring cleaning. When it hung on over a week, I had an ultrasound which showed nil, so I continued with corticosterone therapy. Eight weeks later I had another scan that showed huge changes. Pain levels were through the roof and other symptoms neither of us saw developed (doctor or I). Doctor didn't pick it up but when he sent me back to get another procedure-guided injection of cortisone, the radiologist said to have that much change in ultrasounds 2 months apart meant something was seriously wrong. After hospital admission and so many tests, it was found to be septic arthritis and was on 12 weeks of intravenous and then oral antibiotics. I'm under 40 with lowered immune and hypothyroidism/obesity/depression/Herpes 2. I swear my eyes and brain degenerated or were affected in some way, apart from the advanced degeneration in my disc. I wonder if that is possible.

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