Septic arthritis in patients aged 80 and older: a comparison with younger adults

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Jul;53(7):1210-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2005.53373.x.


Objectives: To compare the frequency and characteristics of septic arthritis in patients younger than 80 and aged 80 and older.

Design: Retrospective.

Setting: Single hospital center.

Participants: Patients admitted between 1979 and 2002 for septic arthritis.

Measurements: Age, sex, time to diagnosis, predisposing factors, joint, temperature, white blood cell count, microorganism, and short-term outcome.

Results: Of 335 patients, 206 (61.4%) were aged 60 and older, and 42 (12.5%) were 80 and older. The latter had an average age of 84 (range 80-97) and were mainly women (72%). Eighteen of the 42 had at least one risk factor. The mean time to diagnosis was 21 days (range 1 day to 3 months). Twenty patients (47%) had knee involvement, six (14%) shoulder involvement, ten (23.8%) a prosthetic infection, and five (12%) polyarticular infection. Ten (23%) were afebrile. In half of the cases, there was no increase in white blood cell count. The microorganisms isolated were Staphylococcus aureus (n=16, 38%), coagulase negative staphylococci (n=8, 19%), streptococci (n=12, 28%), and gram-negative bacilli (n=6, 14%). The mortality rate increased with age: 0.7% of patients younger than 60, 4.8% of those aged 60 to 79, and 9.5% of those aged 80 and older.

Conclusion: Advanced age is a risk factor for septic arthritis and poor outcome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Infectious* / microbiology
  • Arthritis, Infectious* / mortality
  • Female
  • Hip Joint
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors