Septic Arthritis Infection

Septic arthritis, also called infectious arthritis, is an infection in the fluid and tissues of a joint. It is usually caused by bacteria, but can also be caused by a virus or fungus. The organism can spread through the bloodstream into a joint, or from a nearby infection, such as a wound, causing pain, swelling and fever. The infection can quickly damage the cartilage and bone in the joint, so it is important to get a prompt, accurate diagnosis and start appropriate treatment quickly.

Although anyone can get septic arthritis, people who are older with existing joint problems such as osteoarthritis, and those with an artificial joint or a weak immune system are at greater risk.

Septic Arthritis Symptoms

Common symptoms of septic arthritis include:

  • Pain, redness, warmth and swelling around the joint
  • Inability or limited ability to move the arm or leg with the infected joint
  • Fever, chills or night sweats

In acute infectious arthritis, symptoms usually start within hours or a few days of infection.

In chronic infectious arthritis, which typically occurs in an artificial joint (prosthetic joint infection), symptoms usually are milder and occur gradually, sometimes weeks or months after the joint replacement. Chronic infectious arthritis also should be diagnosed and treated as soon as you become aware of symptoms.

MicroGenDX Tests Used to Diagnose Septic Arthritis

To treat a septic arthritis infection, your doctor needs to know if the joint is infected and which organism is causing the infection. The condition is usually diagnosed through a Joint Fluid Analysis (Synovial Fluid Analysis), which can sometimes lead to a negative or incorrect diagnosis. NGS will be able to detect all the bacteria and fungi in the specimen in addition to providing biomarkers.

To get complete instructions, you can order the SurgeryKEY Test Service.

Providing Samples for MicroGenDX Tests

Everything you need to know about how a septic arthritis sample is taken is included with the test. It’s also available online on the SurgeryKEY product page. The instructions included with the test contain illustrations to help your doctor collect a sample without contaminating it. It’s always important to obtain a proper sample by following the instructions for collecting the sample, as well as when packaging and shipping it.

For the SurgeryKEY Test Service sample, your doctor will use a needle and syringe to remove fluid from the affected joint. This process is called joint aspiration. The aspiration is typically done on the knee but can be done on any joint, such as the hip, shoulder or elbow.

Medical Specialties Treating Septic Arthritis

Prompt identification is important to prevent further complications or spread of the infection. Treatment can involve a team of experts such as an orthopedic surgeon, a wound care nurse, an infectious disease consultant, and a physical therapist.

How Septic Arthritis is Treated

When an infection is present, the MicroGenDX test will indicate options for antibiotics and antifungals your specialist can prescribe to treat the infection in the “antimicrobials for consideration” section of the test results. Your doctor will also drain the fluid from the infected joint using a needle and syringe (joint aspiration, or arthrocentesis). Your doctor may also irrigate the joint to remove the infected tissue, a process called arthroscopy.

If the infected tissue can’t be removed with arthrocentesis and arthroscopy, surgery may be needed.

Splinting may be done to keep the joint from moving during the first few days of infection, which can help ease the pain. Shortly after, physical therapy is started to strengthen the muscles around the joint and prevent stiffness and permanent loss of function.

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