134 patients with septic arthritis who have been treated at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre during a 30-year period have been reviewed. There has been little change in the overall incidence during the last 20 years, but recently the disease has become more common among the elderly and patients tend to be less ill on presentation. The problems and necessity of rapidly establishing a diagnosis are stressed. Overall, 70% attained a good result though infection in infants' hips and all joints in the elderly carried a poor prognosis. Once a good result was achieved the joint did not deteriorate with the passage of time.
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