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Emergency Medical Minute


Dec 13, 2022

Contributor: Aaron Lessen, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Septic arthritis of the sternoclavicular joint is uncommon accounting for <1% of septic arthritis cases
  • Immunosuppression and IV drug use increases the risk
    •  Can account for up to 17% of septic arthritis cases in patients who use IV drugs
  • Symptoms are typically vague with pain presenting around where the sternum meets the clavicle
  • Consider imaging with CT or MRI and draining/analyzing the fluid if possible
  • Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment, but surgery may be required to wash out joint and resect infected bone
  • As septic arteritis of the sternoclavicular join is uncommon, remember that patients presenting multiple times for the same complaint require a broader differential and a more extensive workup so that less common conditions are not missed



Gonçalves RB, Grenho A, Correia J, Reis JE. Sternoclavicular joint septic arthritis in a healthy adult: a rare diagnosis with frequent complications. J Bone Jt Infect. 2021;6(9):389-392. doi:10.5194/jbji-6-389-2021


Thompson MA, Barlotta KS. Septic Arthritis of the Sternoclavicular Joint. J Emerg Med. Jul 2018;55(1):128-129. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2018.02.044


Summarized by Mark O’Brien, MS4 | Edited by John Spartz, MD, & Erik Verzemnieks, MD


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