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Bacterial septic arthritis in 19 dogs

Marchevsky, A.M. and Read, R.A. (1999) Bacterial septic arthritis in 19 dogs. Australian Veterinary Journal, 77 (4). pp. 233-237.

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ObjectiveTo provide information on the clinical features, diagnosis and treatment of bacterial septic arthritis in dogs.

DesignA retrospective study examining case records of all dogs diagnosed with bacterial septic arthritis at Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital between 1988 and 1997.

ResultsNineteen dogs were diagnosed with bacterial septic arthritis, which most commonly occurred after surgery involving the stifle joint. Haematogenous infection occurred in only five dogs. Diagnosis was based on clinical signs, joint fluid analysis, radiography, microbiology and/or response to treatment. Chronic lameness was the most common problem at presentation. Analysis of joint fluid invariably revealed large number of nucleated cells, which consisted primarily of neutrophils. In all but one case the neutrophils were nondegenerate. Culture of joint fluid was frequently successful. Staphylococcus spp were the most common bacteria isolated. Treatment involved antimicrobial drugs only in five dogs. Other dogs received antimicrobial drugs in combination with surgical procedures such as joint lavage and removal of nonabsorbable suture material (eight), arthrodesis (two) or amputation (one). Two dogs were euthanased. Most dogs responded well to treatment and were free of signs of septic arthritis at follow-up.

ConclusionBacterial septic arthritis may often be mild and manifest as chronic lameness. Analysis of joint fluid will detect an inflammatory arthropathy but the presence of toxic neutrophils should not be relied on as an indicator of sepsis. Culture of infected joint fluid is likely to be successful if antimicrobials are not given prior to collection and if the sample is inoculated into enrichment broth. Treatment should involve antimicrobial drugs, open-joint lavage and removal of joint prostheses if the infection is associated with previous surgery.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
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