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Septic arthritis due to streptococci and enterococci in native joints: a 13 year retrospective study

  • Helene Lotz
  • Carol StrahmEmail author
  • Vilijam Zdravkovic
  • Bernhard Jost
  • Werner C. Albrich
Original Paper



Streptococcal species are the second most common cause of native joint septic arthritis (SA). However, there are few systematic data about streptococcal SA.


The medical records of adults with SA caused by streptococci, pneumococci, and enterococci at our tertiary care centre between 2003 and 2015 were reviewed.


71 patients (34% female) with 83 affected joints were included. Median age was 62 years. A single joint was involved in 62 patients (87%). One or more comorbidities were present in 58 patients (82%). 16 patients (23%) had a concomitant soft-tissue infection overlying the affected joint. The hematogenous route was the dominating pathogenesis (42/71, 59%). 9 (13%) patients were diagnosed with endocarditis. The knee was the most commonly affected joint (27/83, 33%) followed by shoulder (13/83, 16%). ß-haemolytic streptococci were most commonly identified (37/71, 52%) followed by polymicrobial infections (12/71, 17%). Surgical interventions included arthroscopic irrigation and debridement in 31 (44%), arthrotomy in 23 (32%), and amputation in five patients (7%). Median duration of antimicrobial therapy was 42 days. Antibiotic treatment without any surgical intervention was performed in 5 (7%) patients. Outcome was good in 55 (89%) patients; mortality was 13% with four of nine deaths attributed to joint infection. Age and pathogen group independently predicted poor outcome in recursive partitioning analysis.


Streptococcal SA was mostly due to ß-haemolytic streptococci in older and polymorbid patients. Old age, anginosus group streptococci, enterococci, and polymicrobial infections predicted poor outcome, while antibiotic treatment duration can likely be shortened.


Septic arthritis Bacterial arthritis Joint infections Streptococci Enterococci 


Author contributions

The conception and design of the study: HL, CS, and WCA; acquisition of data: HL and CS; analysis of data: HL, CS, and VZ; interpretation of data: all authors; drafting the article: HL, CS, and WCA; critical revision of the article: all authors; final approval of the version to be submitted: all authors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the local Ethics Committee (EKSG 15/161).

Informed consent

Due to the retrospective nature of the study, an informed consent was waived.

Supplementary material

15010_2019_1301_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 14 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital EpidemiologyCantonal Hospital St GallenSt. GallenSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Orthopaedics and TraumatologyCantonal Hospital St. GallenSt. GallenSwitzerland

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