Laboratory Tests To Rule Out Septic Arthritis

Health & Medical Blog

Septic arthritis is a joint infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, and it is also known as infectious arthritis. Symptoms of septic arthritis include joint inflammation, pain, warmth over the affected area, and decreased range of motion. It can also cause fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, and a fast heart rate. If your physical examination reveals signs of septic arthritis, your physician may recommend the following laboratory services to confirm or rule out this painful condition. 

Blood Tests

Because septic arthritis is generally caused by an infectious agent, your doctor may order a complete blood count or CBC. This laboratory blood test can help your doctor determine if you have an infection because infections often cause a rise in the white blood cells or WBCs. Another blood test your doctor may recommend to help confirm your diagnosis is an erythrocyte sedimentation rate or ESR.

If you have septic arthritis, you may also have an increase in systemic inflammation. Inflammatory responses inside the body caused by arthritic joint conditions may lead to an elevated ESR. If your blood tests reveal an infection and systemic inflammation, your healthcare provider may recommend additional clinical laboratory services. 

Fluid Analysis

Another laboratory service used by doctors to diagnose septic arthritis is the joint fluid analysis test. After the fluid has been aspirated from the joint, it will be sent to the lab for fluid analysis. The laboratory technician will analyze the joint fluid under a microscope to look for the microorganisms that may be responsible for septic arthritis. The lab technician will also assess the joint fluid for abnormal consistency and unusual color or clarity.

The fluid analysis test is an important diagnostic test because it can reveal the type of infectious organism that is responsible for your joint infection. Once your physician knows which organism is responsible for your septic arthritis, they can then prescribe the appropriate medication. For example, if your joint infection is bacterial in nature, antibiotics will be prescribed. Conversely, if the infection is caused by fungi, then an antifungal medication may be prescribed.

It is important to note, that if a diagnosis of septic arthritis is made, then you may require hospitalization for intravenous antimicrobial therapy. Oral antimicrobial therapy, especially in the acute stages of septic arthritis, may be less effective than intravenous antimicrobial therapy.

If you develop any signs and symptoms of septic arthritis, see your doctor right away. When joint infections are diagnosed and treated promptly, you may be less likely to develop complications such as permanent joint damage.  


21 October 2021

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