Nigerian Journal of Surgery

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Childhood Pyogenic Septic Arthritis as Seen in a Teaching Hospital South East Nigeria

Njoku Isaac Omoke, Akputa Aja Obasi


Background: Childhood pyogenic septic arthritis and its associated musculoskeletal morbidity is an important health concern in developing countries. Its pattern of presentation that varies from and within subregions has implications on the early recognition, treatment, and outcome. The aim of this study was to determine the pattern and outcome of childhood septic arthritis in our environment.

Materials and Methods: This was a retrospective study of all the children seen with pyogenic septic arthritis in Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki between January 2005 and December 2015.

Results: Childhood septic arthritis accounted for 44 (83%) of the 53 patients seen with pyogenic septic arthritis. Female to male ratio was 1:1.75 and the mean age was 5.7 ± 0.73 years. Eight patients (18.2%) had polyarticular involvements. The right shoulder was significantly more involved than the left and the left hip more than right. Overall, there was a preponderance of onset of symptoms in the dry season. Children from the rural areas accounted for 85.7% of those with the onset of symptom in rainy season. Delayed presentation >6 days (in 68.2% of patients) was related to age (P < 0.042), and health seeking behavior (P < 0.036).  Staphylococcus aureus was the commonest causative organism. Seventy‑seven percent (77%) underwent open  arthrotomy. Anemia, septic shock, and joint stiffness were three top complications observed. Mortality rate was 2.3%, and cause of death was overwhelming sepsis.

Conclusion: In our setting, pyogenic septic arthritis is predominantly a childhood health problem and children under 5 years of age are the most vulnerable. Delayed presentation, an important factor in morbidity and mortality associated with septic arthritis was common among the patients, calls for a public enlightenment program on the importance of early presentation.

Keywords: Arthritis, childhood, Nigeria, pyogenic, septic
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