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Microbiology and management of joint and bone infections due to anaerobic bacteria.

PURPOSE: To describes the microbiology, diagnosis, and management of septic arthritis and osteomyelitis due to anaerobic bacteria.

RESULTS: The predominant anaerobes in arthritis are anaerobic Gram-negative bacilli (AGNB) including the Bacteroides fragilis group, Fusobacterium spp., Peptostreptococcus spp., and Propionibacterium acnes. Infection with P. acnes is associated with a prosthetic joint, previous surgery, and trauma. B. fragilis group is associated with distant infection, Clostridium spp. with trauma, and Fusobacterium spp. with oropharyngeal infection. Most cases of anaerobic arthritis, in contrast to anaerobic osteomyelitis, involved a single isolate, and most cases are secondary to hematogenous spread. The predominant anaerobes in osteomyelitis are Bacteroides, Peptostreptococcus, Fusobacterium, and Clostridium spp. as well as P. acnes. Conditions predisposing to bone infections are vascular disease, bites, contiguous infection, peripheral neuropathy, hematogenous spread, and trauma. Pigmented Prevotella and Porphyromonas spp. are mostly isolated in skull and bite infections, members of the B. fragilis group in hand and feet infections, and Fusobacterium spp. in skull, bite, and hematogenous long bone infections. Many patients with osteomyelitis due to anaerobic bacteria have evidence of an anaerobic infection elsewhere in the body that is the source of the organisms involved in the osteomyelitis. Treatment of arthritis and osteomyelitis involving anaerobic bacteria includes symptomatic therapy, immobilization in some cases, adequate drainage of purulent material, and antibiotic therapy effective against these organisms.

CONCLUSIONS: Anaerobic bacteria can cause septic arthritis and osteomyelitis. Correct diagnosis and appropriate therapy are important contributor to successful outcome.

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