Ultrasound in Emergency Medicine| Volume 58, ISSUE 4, P627-631, April 2020

Point-of-Care Ultrasound for the Detection of Hip Effusion and Septic Arthritis in Adult Patients With Hip Pain and Negative Initial Imaging



      Acute or recurrent hip pain in adults can be a challenging presentation in the emergency department. While ultrasound is routinely used in the evaluation of pediatric patients with hip pain and a new limp, it is not commonly used for this purpose in adult emergency medicine. This case series demonstrates the clinical utility of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) in adult patients with acute or recurrent hip pain because performance of POCUS was the critical action that led to the identification of pathologic hip effusions in this series of adults.

      Case Series

      This case series includes 5 patients in whom clinical suspicion existed for the presence of a hip effusion and possible septic arthritis, despite nondiagnostic radiographic findings. Ultrasound was used to detect the effusion and guide subsequent arthrocentesis, imaging, or surgical intervention. In all patients, computed tomography scans or magnetic resonance imaging scans were later used to confirm the presence of effusion. In all 5 patients (2 women and 3 men, with a mean age of 47.4 years), POCUS accurately detected the presence of hip effusion. Two of 5 synovial collections were caused by septic arthritis as confirmed by synovial fluid microbiologic examination.

      Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?

      This case series emphasizes the clinical utility of POCUS in adult patients with acute and recurrent hip pain to detect a hip effusion, particularly in patients with significant risk factors for septic arthritis. POCUS can also be used to guide further imaging, arthrocentesis, surgical consultation, and intervention.


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