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Septic arthritis is an infection of the joint space that affects 20,000 people in the US per year. It is more common in male, elderly, and immunosuppressed patients. It is also particularly prevalent in prosthetic joints, affecting up to 10% of them. Bacteria invade the joint either from the bloodstream from another infected site or by direct inoculation of the joint. Joints with structural damage (such as from rheumatoid arthritis) are more susceptible to infection. Once the joint is infected, destruction occurs quickly (within a few days). The cartilage becomes damaged by bacteria directly, however influx of leukocytes into the joint and the subsequent inflammation also causes more destruction. Large joint effusions can prevent perfusion of the joint resulting in ischemic necrosis of the bone. Even if treated quickly, half of adults who get septic arthritis may have chronic complications such as pain or decreased range of motion
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