What is septic arthritis?

Updated: Sep 19, 2017
  • Author: John L Brusch, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Septic arthritis, also known as infectious arthritis, may represent a direct invasion of joint space by various microorganisms, most commonly caused by bacteria. However, viruses, mycobacteria, and fungi have been implicated. Reactive arthritis is a sterile inflammatory process that may result from an extra-articular infectious process. Bacteria are the most significant pathogens in septic arthritis because of their rapidly destructive nature. For this reason, the current discussion concentrates on the bacterial septic arthritides. Failure to recognize and to appropriately treat septic arthritis results in significant rates of morbidity and may even lead to death.


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