Background. Candida arthritis is a debilitating form of deeply invasive candidiasis. However, its epidemiology, clinical manifestations, management, and outcome are not well understood.
Methods. Cases of Candida arthritis were reviewed from 1967 through 2014. Variables included Candida spp in joint and/or adjacent bone, underlying conditions, clinical manifestations, inflammatory biomarkers, diagnostic imaging, management, and outcome.
Results. Among 112 evaluable cases, 62% were males and 36% were pediatric. Median age was 40 years (range, <1–84 years). Most patients (65%) were not pharmacologically immunosuppressed. Polyarticular infection (≥3 joints) occurred in 31% of cases. Clinical manifestations included pain (82%), edema (71%), limited function (39%), and erythema (22%) with knees (75%) and hips (15%) most commonly infected. Median erythrocyte sedimentation rate was 62 mm/hr (10–141) and C reactive protein 26 mg/dL (0.5–95). Synovial fluid median white blood cell count was 27 500/µL (range, 100–220 000/µL) with 90% polymorphonuclear neutrophils (range, 24–98). Adjacent osteomyelitis was present in 30% of cases. Candida albicans constituted 63%, Candida tropicalis 14%, and Candida parapsilosis 11%. Most cases (66%) arose de novo, whereas 34% emerged during antifungal therapy. Osteolysis occurred in 42%, joint-effusion in 31%, and soft tissue extension in 21%. Amphotericin and fluconazole were the most commonly used agents. Surgical interventions included debridement in 25%, irrigation 10%, and drainage 12%. Complete or partial response was achieved in 96% and relapse in 16%.
Conclusion. Candida arthritis mainly emerges as a de novo infection in usually non-immunosuppressed patients with hips and knees being most commonly infected. Localizing symptoms are frequent, and the most common etiologic agents are C albicans, C tropicalis, and C parapsilosis. Management of Candida arthritis remains challenging with a clear risk of relapse, despite antifungal therapy.