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Sternoclavicular joint septic arthritis

Case contributed by Dr Bruno Di Muzio


Painful lump in the region of the left sternoclavicular joint.

Patient Data

Age: 55 years

MRI Left clavicle

There is a cortical destruction of the sternoclavicular joint margins associated with adjacent bone marrow edema and enhancement, as well as an irregular fluid collection within the joint space. Extensive inflammatory changes noted within the adjacent soft tissues, including muscular edema, in particular of the pectoralis major and sternocleidomastoid muscles. Small soft tissue collection anterior to the clavicle 14 mm lateral to the joint. No soft tissue collections elsewhere. Multiple enlarged likely reactive left neck lymph nodes. The imaged neck vessels have preserved flow voids.


US Neck (targeted study for FNA)

Thickening and hyperemia of the left sternocleidomastoid, in particular of the clavicular head. The patient is most tender over this region. Surrounding lymphadenopathy. Small effusion of the left sternoclavicular joint has bee sampled. 

Case Discussion

Imaging features are consistent with sternoclavicular joint septic arthritis.




  • Leukocytes +
  • Gram positive cocci +
  • Calcium pyrophosphate crystals detected - indicative of pseudogout.

CULTURE Staphylococcus aureus +++


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Case information

rID: 54385
Published: 7th Jul 2017
Last edited: 14th Aug 2019
Tag: rmh
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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