Septic Arthritis of the Glenohumeral Joint: A Review of 23 Cases


Infection of the glenohumeral joint is an uncommon yet devastating condition. The objective of this study
was to review the incidence, risk factors, presentation, and treatment for this disorder. Twenty-three
culture-positive cases of septic arthritis of the glenohumeral joint were identified and treated at the
authors’ institution between 1986 and 2000. Eighty-seven percent of patients had at least one serious
systemic illness, and on average had two. Fifty-two percent had a different primary site of infection
identified. Staphylococcus aureus was identified as the infectious organism in 70% of cases, 17% of
which were found to be methicillin-resistant S. aureus. Patients admitted to the orthopedic service were
more likely to undergo surgical treatment. Patients treated surgically had shorter hospital stays than those
treated with serial aspirations alone. Shoulder infections affect patients who are older and have multiple
systemic diseases. Surgical treatment of shoulder infections, when compared to aspiration alone, is
associated with a shorter hospital stay. Glenohumeral infection is a debilitating affliction even when
control of the infection can be achieved. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 14(2):102–107,
Key words: glenohumeral joint, septic arthritis, septic shoulder

SKU: JSOA-2005-14-2-S11 Categories: , Tags: , ,

Edmond Cleeman, MD; Joshua D. Auerbach, MD; Gregory G. Klingenstein, BA; and Evan L. Flatow, MD