Which clinical history findings are characteristic of pneumococcal infection in the joints or bones?

Updated: Jun 08, 2020
  • Author: Eduardo Sanchez, MD; Chief Editor: John L Brusch, MD, FACP  more...
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S pneumoniae infection is an uncommon cause of osteomyelitis and septic arthritis, causing approximately 4% and 20% of cases in children, respectively.

Septic arthritis: Pneumococcal septic arthritis usually manifests as painful, swollen, and hot joints. The ankles and knees are most commonly involved, and one or more joints may be affected. Blood or synovial cultures usually grow S pneumoniae. Up to half of patients with pneumococcal septic arthritis have concomitant osteomyelitis.

Osteomyelitis: The femur and humerus are most often involved in cases of pneumococcal osteomyelitis in children; the vertebral bones are often involved in adult patients. Up to 20% of patients with pneumococcal osteomyelitis develop long-term sequelae, a figure similar to that of rates of osteomyelitis of other causes. One clinical study performed by the Pediatric Multicenter Pneumococcal Surveillance Study Group (PMPSSG) showed that more than 40% of patients with joint and bone pneumococcal infections had associated bacteremia. [51] Patients with joint prostheses or rheumatic fever are at increased risk for joint disease.

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