Hitherto laboratory diagnosis of septic arthritis has been dependent on Gram films, bacteriological culture and leucocyte counts with varying amounts of success. Patients with septic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions in which joint inflammation is significant have been analysed for the presence of specific staphylococcal teichoic acid antibody (TAA) in serum and synovial fluid specimens as an alternative to provide improved diagnosis. Good correlation between a positive bacterial culture for Staphylococcus aureus and TAA was seen in those patients with staphylococcal septic arthritis. Serum proved to be a better source of the antibody than synovial fluid. Thepresence of immune complexes in synovial fluid may account for this difference in sensitivity. © 1987.
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