• Joint fluid analysis is a method of withdrawing fluid from the affected joint by inserting a needle and sending the joint fluid for a laboratory test, which can determine the organism that causes the infection. Doctor will prescribe the medication accordingly.
  • Blood tests are carried out to rule out if there are any signs of bloodstream infection.
  • Imaging tests such as X-rays of the affected joint to evaluate the damage or to see if there is a loosening of an artificial joint.

If suspected that you have prosthetic joint infection, a special scan that requires swallowing or injecting a tiny amount of radioactive chemical would be used.


Doctors primarily uses joint drainage and antibiotics to treat patients with septic arthritis.

Joint drainage

Joint drainage is a removal of fluid from the infected joint. The followings are the drainage methods:

  • Needle is inserted into the infected joint space to drain the fluid.
  • Scope procedure is an arthroscopy, a procedure that is carried out by making a small incision to place a flexible tube with a video camera on the tip through to the joint space. Tubes for suctioning and draining are then inserted through cut around the joint.
  • Open surgery is chosen for certain joints like hip joints that fluid cannot be drained with a needle or an arthroscopy.


It is crucial for doctor to identify the organism behind the causing of the infection, so the right medication can be prescribed. Initially, antibiotics given through intravenous then it may be possible to change to oral antibiotics. Generally, the medication is taken for two to six weeks. Side effects of antibiotics are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Removal of joint replacement

In case where artificial joint is infected, the condition will be treated by removing the joint and implanting a device composed of antibiotic cement to leave a space in the joint. Cases where a joint replacement cannot be done, the doctor will clean up the joint and trim excess tissues that have been destroyed and keep the artificial joint in its original place. Intravenous antibiotics will be given primarily then followed by oral antibiotics. The medications should be taken for several months to prevent new infections from arising.