Septic arthritis: A unique complication of nasal septal abscess | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Septic arthritis: A unique complication of nasal septal abscess

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March 2, 2015
by Steven M. Olsen, MD; Cody A. Koch, MD, PhD; Dale C. Ekbom, MD


Nasal septal abscesses (NSAs) occur between the muco-perichondrium and the nasal septum. They most often arise when an untreated septal hematoma becomes infected. The most commonly reported sequela is a loss of septal cartilage support, which can result in a nasal deformity. Other sequelae include potentially life-threatening conditions such as meningitis, cavernous sinus thrombosis, brain abscess, and subarachnoid empyema. We report the case of a 17-year-old boy who developed an NSA after he had been struck in the face with a basketball. He presented to his primary care physician 5 days after the injury and again the next day, but his condition was not correctly diagnosed. Finally, 7 days after his injury, he presented to an emergency department with more serious symptoms, and he was correctly diagnosed with NSA. He was admitted to the intensive care unit, and he remained hospitalized for 6 days. Among the abscess sequelae he experienced was septic arthritis, which has heretofore not been reported as a complication of NSA. He responded well to appropriate treatment, although he lost a considerable amount of septal cartilage. He was discharged home on intravenous antibiotic therapy, and his condition improved. Reconstruction of the nasal septum will likely need to be pursued in the future.

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