What is gonococcal arthritis?

Updated: Jan 12, 2019
  • Author: Victoria Fernandes Sullivan, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

Gonococcal arthritis is caused by infection with the gram-negative diplococcus Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In the United States, gonococcal arthritis is the most common form of septic arthritis. [1] In Western Europe, however, gonococcal arthritis is uncommon, [2] probably because of the 70% decline in gonococcal infections over the past 2 decades. [1]

Although the pathogenesis of articular involvement is controversial, it is ultimately a consequence of disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI). Gonococcal arthritis manifests as either as a bacteremic infection (arthritis-dermatitis syndrome) or as a localized septic arthritis. Arthritis-dermatitis syndrome includes the classic triad of dermatitis, tenosynovitis, and migratory polyarthritis.

Patients with gonococcal arthritis usually require initial hospitalization for intravenous (IV) antibiotic therapy; upon improvement, they can be switched to oral antibiotics. Unlike Staphylococcus aureus septic arthritis, gonococcal arthritis is rarely associated with joint destruction.


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