What is the pathophysiology of gonococcal arthritis?

Updated: Jul 31, 2018
  • Author: Rachel Robbins, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

Gonococcal arthritis is caused by infection with the gram-negative diplococcus N gonorrhoeae, a highly infectious organism capable of colonizing diverse mucosal surfaces. The risk of infection from a single contact with N gonorrhoeae is estimated to be 60-90% for women and 20-50% for men. [1] Common sites of infection include the urethra, cervix, pharynx, and rectum. Infection may be asymptomatic in some patients.

Hematogenous spread of the mucosal infection occurs in 0.5-3% of cases, [3] and disseminated infection is thought to play a major role in the pathogenesis of gonococcal arthritis. Patients with DGI may present with dermatitis-arthritis syndrome (60% of cases) or with a localized septic arthritis (40%). These presentations may represent different phases of a disease continuum.


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