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Septic arthritis in children

INFECTIOUS OR BACTERIAL ARTHRITIS

Treating and providing aftercare for septic arthritis in children

About

Septic arthritis is a medical emergency. It's caused by a bacterial infection in the joint space and may cause permanent damage if not treated immediately. It's most common in the hip and knees.

It's caused by bacteria which can enter the bloodstream through a cut on the skin and travels to the joints.

Need to know

  • Symptoms icon plus

    Parents should watch for the following symptoms in their child:

    • Acute pain, redness and heat in a large joint such as the hip
    • Pain and spasm when child tries to move the joint
    • High fever and rapid pulse
    • Tremors, dilated pupils and disrupted speech

    Babies may be irritable and refuse to feed. They may have redness in the joints, a racing pulse and obvious infection around the umbilical cord (where the bacteria may have entered).

  • Diagnosis icon plus

    If you think your child has septic arthritis, go straight to hospital. They'll be given a blood test and fluid will be drawn from the joints for testing. A consultant will look for signs of infection (increased levels of white blood cells) and staphylococcal and streptococcal bacteria, which cause septic arthritis. They will also examine your child's joints and look for symptoms of septic arthritis.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Your child will be treated with antibiotics, given through a drip. They'll be kept in hospital for around two weeks. This is to monitor the condition and to make sure pressure is taken off the joints. They'll be seen by an orthopaedic consultant, who may suggest your child needs fluid drained from the joint. This is done through keyhole surgery (arthroscopy). After your child returns home, they'll be given a further course of antibiotic tablets. Your consultant will check your child's progress.
Consultant in theatres

Our consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

  • The Portland Hospital Facility

    The Portland Hospital

    205 - 209 Great Portland Street

    London

    W1W 5AH

    Children's enquiries 020 7390 8020
    Maternity enquiries 020 7390 6068
    Gynaecology enquiries 020 7390 6200

  • Institute of Sport Exercise and Health Facility

    Institute of Sport Exercise and Health

    170 Tottenham Court Road

    London

    W1T 7HA

    Call 020 3447 2800
    [Mon | Weds | Fri] 8am - 6pm
    [Tues | Thurs] 8am - 8pm

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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