Arthrocentesis, arthroscopy or arthrotomy for septic knee arthritis in children: a systematic review

CM Donders, AJ Spaans, Gert Bessems, CJA van Bergen

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Septic knee arthritis in children can be treated by arthrocentesis (articular needle aspiration) with or without irrigation, arthroscopy or arthrotomy followed by antibiotics. The objective of this systematic review was to identify the most effective drainage technique for septic arthritis of the knee in children. Methods The electronic PubMed, Embase and Cochrane databases were systematically searched for original articles that reported outcomes of arthrocentesis, arthroscopy or arthrotomy for septic arthritis of the knee. The quality of all included studies was assessed with the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies (MINORS) criteria. This systematic review was performed and reported according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines (PROSPERO). Results Out of 2428 articles, 11 studies with a total of 279 knees were included in the systematic review. The quality of evidence was low (MINORS median 4 (2 to 7)). A metaanalysis could not be performed because of the diversity and low quality of the studies. In septic knee arthritis, additional drainage procedures were needed in 54 of 156 (35%) knees after arthrocentesis, in four of 96 (4%) after arthroscopy and in two of 12 (17%) after arthrotomy. Conclusion Included studies on treatment strategies for septic arthritis of the knee in children are diverse and the scientific quality is generally low. Knee arthroscopy might have a lower risk of additional drainage procedures as compared with arthrocentesis and arthrotomy, with acceptable clinical outcomes and no radiological sequelae. Level of evidence: IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-54
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Childrens Orthopaedics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

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