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Clin Infect Dis. 2003 Feb 1;36(3):319-27. Epub 2003 Jan 13.

Pneumococcal septic arthritis: review of 190 cases.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Saint Elizabeth's Medical Center, Boston, MA 02135, USA.


This article reports 13 cases of pneumococcal septic arthritis and reviews another 177 cases reported since 1965. Of 2407 cases of septic arthritis from large series, 156 (6%) were caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae. Mortality was 19% among adults and 0% among children. Pneumococcal bacteremia was the strongest predictor of mortality. At least 1 knee was involved in 56% of adults. Polyarticular disease (36%) and bacteremia (72%) were more common among adults with septic arthritis caused by S. pneumoniae than among adults with other causative organisms. Only 50% of adults with pneumococcal septic arthritis had another focus of pneumococcal infection, such as pneumonia. Functional outcomes were good in 95% of patients. Uncomplicated pneumococcal septic arthritis can be managed with arthrocentesis and 4 weeks of antibiotic therapy; most cases of pneumococcal prosthetic joint infection can be managed without prosthesis removal. A fatal case of septic arthritis caused by a beta-lactam-resistant strain of S. pneumoniae is also presented.

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