Diagnosing Infectious Arthritis

Tests Used to Diagnose Infectious Arthritis

Certain tests your healthcare provider may recommend to help diagnose infectious arthritis include:
 
  • X-rays or other imaging tests
  • A test of synovial fluid
  • Spinal tap
  • Other tests.
     
X-rays or Other Imaging Tests
Doctors can use x-rays to help when diagnosing infectious arthritis. Depending on the type of infectious arthritis, early effects of the disease may or may not be seen on x-ray. X-rays may also be used to rule out other medical conditions that share similar symptoms with infectious arthritis.
 
In certain situations, your healthcare provider may recommend a CT scan or MRI. These imaging tests are better than x-rays at showing early changes that can occur with a number of types of infectious arthritis.
 
Synovial Fluid Testing
A sample of synovial fluid (the fluid that lubricates the joints) may be removed from the arthritic joint. Studies of synovial fluid are often necessary to determine whether a person has infectious arthritis.
 
Spinal Tap
The healthcare provider may do a spinal tap if an infection with H. influenzae is suspected. Such an infection may create an increased risk of meningitis.
 
Other Tests
The doctor also is likely to perform other tests for infections that might be associated with infectious arthritis. For example, the person may be tested for a gonorrhea infection. This can include testing the blood or cell samples taken from the throat and rectum, as well as from the urethra in men or the cervix in women.
 

Ruling Out Other Medical Conditions

Before making an infectious arthritis diagnosis, the healthcare provider will also consider other conditions that share a number of symptoms with infectious arthritis. Some of these conditions include:
 
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Infectious Arthritis Information

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