Original Article

Treatment for sternoclavicular joint infections: a multi-institutional study

Allen Murga, Hannah Copeland, Rachel Hargrove, Jason M. Wallen, Salman Zaheer


Background: Sternoclavicular joint (SCJ) infections are rare and difficult to manage. Surgery is necessary for treatment.
Methods: A retrospective chart review of the university hospital and Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals of all patients treated for SCJ infections since 2001 was conducted. Fifteen [15] patients were identified and evaluated for the types of infections, risk factors, treatments and survival.
Results: All 15 patients were symptomatic including: pain [13], erythema [9], purulent drainage [3], fever greater than 38.3 ℃ [2], and leukocytosis [9]. The associated medical problems included: diabetes mellitus (DM), hypertension (HTN) and renal failure. All patients underwent intraoperative joint resection. Sixtyseven percent (67%) of intraoperative wound cultures grew staphylococcus aureus. Fourteen patients were discharged on intravenous antibiotics. The follow-up ranged between 1 week–11 months. Thirteen patients are currently alive without infection. Two patients died: 1 of sepsis and 1 of unknown causes after discharge.
Conclusions: Symptomatic SCJ infections require surgical intervention. The most common organism was staphylococcus aureus.

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