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Current Approach to the Evaluation and Management of Septic Arthritis

Gottlieb, Michael MD; Holladay, Dallas DO; Rice, Melissa MD

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001874
CME Review Article

Septic arthritis is an emergent condition caused by bacterial infection of a joint space. The most common etiology is hematogenous spread from bacteremia, but it can also occur from direct inoculation from bites, injection injuries, cellulitis, abscesses, or local trauma. Septic arthritis occurs most frequently in the lower extremities, with the hips and knees serving as the most common locations. The most sensitive findings include pain with motion of the joint, limited range of motion, tenderness of the joint, new joint swelling, and new effusion. Laboratory testing and imaging can support the diagnosis, but the criterion standard is diagnostic arthrocentesis. Treatment involves intravenous antibiotics and joint decompression.

Assistant Professor and Director of Ultrasound (Gottlieb), Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of Ultrasound (Holladay), and Assistant Professor (Rice), Department of Emergency Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.

The authors, faculty, and staff in a position to control the content of this CME activity and their spouses/life partners (if any) have disclosed that they have no financial relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial organizations relevant to this educational activity.

Reprints: Michael Gottlieb, MD, 1750 W Harrison St, Suite 108 Kellogg, Chicago, IL 60612 (e-mail:

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