Septic Arthritis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What’s the Treatment for Septic Arthritis?

Septic arthritis treatments include using a combination of powerful antibiotics as well as draining the infected synovial fluid from the joint. It’s likely that antibiotics will be administered immediately to avoid the spread of the infection. Intravenous (IV) antibiotics are given, usually requiring admission to the hospital for initial treatment. The treatment, however, may be continued on an outpatient basis at home with the assistance of a home health nursing service.

Initially, empiric antibiotics are chosen to cover a wide range of infections. If the bacteria can be identified, antibiotics specific to that organism are used. It may take four to six weeks of treatment with antibiotics to ensure complete eradication of the infectious agents.

Is the Infected Fluid Drained?

Drainage of the infected area is critical for rapid clearing of the infection. Drainage is performed by removing the fluid with a needle and syringe. Often the draining occurs daily or with multiple surgical procedures. The exact method depends on the location of the joint.

Using arthroscopy, your doctor can irrigate the joint and remove the infected tissue. If drainage cannot be accomplished with joint aspirations or arthroscopy, open joint surgery is often necessary to drain the joint. If the fluid buildup is significant, the drains are left in place to remove excess fluid that may build up after the surgery.

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