Ankle infection is a serious problem with limited published information on microbiology and associated morbidities. We describe the laboratory findings, microbiology, and occurrence of adjacent osteomyelitis in patients with hematogenous septic ankle arthritis. We retrospectively reviewed 30 patients with hematogenous septic arthritis of the ankle admitted over a 10-year period. Twenty-two patients were male and eight female. The mean age was 46 years (range, 23-67 years). C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate were elevated in all patients, but the peripheral white blood cell count was elevated in only 47% of patients. Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) was the most common pathogen, isolated in 13 (54%) of the 24 patients with positive cultures; four of these isolates (four of 24; 17% of positive cultures) were oxacillin-resistant. Four (17%) of the 24 patients with positive cultures had a mycobacterial infection. We identified adjacent osteomyelitis in 30% of patients, which was considerably associated with the presence of patient comorbidities. S. aureus is the most common pathogen in septic ankle arthritis and empiric antibiotic therapy is recommended. Adjacent osteomyelitis may be present and a high index of suspicion is necessary in patients with comorbidities.

Level III, diagnostic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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