Which physical findings are characteristic of bacteremic gonococcal arthritis?

Updated: Jan 12, 2019
  • Author: Victoria Fernandes Sullivan, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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The bacteremic form of gonococcal arthritis comprises the classic triad of migratory polyarthritis, tenosynovitis, and dermatitis. [9] Migratory arthritis has an asymmetric distribution, most commonly affecting wrists, ankles, and elbows. About 70% of patients have 1-3 joints with clear inflammatory signs after just a few days. Symmetric polyarthritis is less common but may occur in approximately 10% of patients.

Tenosynovitis is asymmetric, usually affecting the dorsum of wrists, hands, and ankles. Tenosynovitis of the fingers may result in dactylitis.

Dermatitis occurs in 40-70% of patients and typically involves the extremities. Lesions are usually tiny maculopapular, pustular, or vesicular lesions on an erythematous base. The center may become necrotic or hemorrhagic. Despite their appearance, these lesions are painless and nonpruritic. They tend to disappear within a few days after treatment is initiated. Usually, 4-50 lesions are reported. Rarely, the lesions may resemble erythema nodosum or erythema multiforme.

Fever rarely involves a temperature higher than 39°C.

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