Management of septic arthritis

Indian J Pediatr. 2004 Sep;71(9):819-24. doi: 10.1007/BF02730722.


Septic arthritis in children remains a serious disease with the potential for significant systemic and musculoskeletal morbidity. Staphlococcus aureus is the most common cause of bone and joint infections in all age groups. Microbial invasion of the synovial space occurs typically results from hematogenous seeding. Diagnosis in neonates and young infants can be difficult since the clinical signs are much less specific in these age groups. Early diagnosis by needle aspiration of the affected joint and prompt initiation of appropriate antimicrobial therapy in conjunction with drainage of the affected joint is critical to avoid destruction of the articular cartilage and prevent disability. Septic arthritis in infants and children should always be managed by a pediatrician in close consultation with an orthopedic surgeon. Empiric antibiotic regimens should always include adequate anti-staphylococcal coverage. Antibiotic treatment should be started with appropriate doses of intravenous antibiotics. Switch to oral antibiotic therapy can be made when patient demonstrates clinical improvement. A minimum of 3-4 weeks of therapy is recommended. Close follow-up is warranted to monitor the growth of the affected limb until skeletal maturity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Infectious / microbiology
  • Arthritis, Infectious / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Infectious / therapy*
  • Child
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / therapy
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / therapy
  • Humans
  • Prognosis


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents