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Septic gonococcal arthritis in a pediatric patient: Rare case report.

INTRODUCTION: Septic arthritis is an orthopedic emergency that requires rapid diagnosis and treatment due to the rapid destruction to cartilage. The responsible organism and etiology differs depending on patient age, especially in children. Gonococcal Arthritis in toddlers is a rare occurrence with few documented cases in the literature. An orthopedic surgeon is likely not to come across this either in training or through their careers. Consequently, its presentation and subsequent treatment algorithms leave several gray areas.

PRESENTATION OF CASE: In this case report, we present a rare and not so straightforward presentation of a toddler with septic gonococcal arthritis along with a summary of treatment considerations described in the current literature and the course of treatment for this patient. Our patient is a toddler who originally presented to the emergency department with shoulder and knee pain for several days after an unwitnessed fall. He was subsequently discharged and presented again the next day with a knee effusion and elevated inflammatory markers. An MRI showed a large joint effusion without any underlying abscess or osteomyelitis to explain his elevated inflammatory markers. A knee aspiration was subsequently preformed which eventually grew out Neisseria Gonorrhea on hospital day 3 after the patient had been on antibiotics. He was taken back for an arthroscopic irrigation and debridement for definitive treatment.

CLINICAL DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION: Disseminated gonococcal infection in toddlers is a rare occurrence without much information in the literature and should not be dismissed as a differential. We recommend a high index of suspicion with thorough work up. We also recommend surgical management of a septic joint due to DGI diagnosed via arthrocentesis (gross purulence, symptoms not improving on medical therapy, positive aspiration cultures, elevated synovial cell counts, and medically unstable patients) given the sequelae of medical management alone. The importance of interdisciplinary team collaboration that include pediatrician, infectious disease specialist, social worker, and government child safety associations is pivotal.

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