Author(s): Faraj AA, Omonbude OD, Godwin P
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Abstract This study aimed at determining the sensitivity and specificity of Gram staining of synovial fluid as a diagnostic tool in acute septic arthritis. A retrospective study was made of 22 patients who had arthroscopic lavage following a provisional diagnosis of acute septic arthritis of the knee joint. Gram stains and cultures of the knee aspirates were compared with the clinical and laboratory parameters, to evaluate their usefulness in diagnosing acute arthritis. All patients who had septic arthritis had pain, swelling and limitation of movement. CRP was elevated in 90\% of patients. The incidence of elevated white blood cell count was higher in the group of patients with a positive Gram stain study (60\%) as compared to patients with a negative Gram stain study (33\%). Gram staining sensitivity was 45\%. Its specificity was however 100\%. Gram staining is an unreliable tool in early decision making in patients requiring urgent surgical drainage and washout.
This article was published in Acta Orthop Belg
and referenced in Journal of Osteoarthritis