Sternoclavicular Joint Abscess Necessitating Empyema: Four ED Visits in Six Days

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American Journal of Medical Case Reports


We report a case of Sternoclavicular Joint (SCJ) infection in a 52-year-old male who developed an empyema over six days. During the first three visits, he had worsening pectoral and shoulder pain and was symptomatically treated and discharged. During the first ED visit, a computed tomography (CT) scan of the neck was negative. During the second ED visit, CTA chest was negative for pulmonary embolism. Three days later, CTA of the neck showed density from the left first rib to the left sternoclavicular joint, suggesting a hematoma. During the final ED visit, CT of the chest showed a left anterior chest wall abscess contiguous with a left upper lobe empyema. VATS confirmed empyema and revealed costochondral and SCJ abscess. Decortication, SCJ resection, and pectoralis muscle debridement were performed. Methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus Aureus (MSSA) was isolated from surgical cultures. After the pectoralis muscle flap closure, he was treated with IV cefazolin for a total of six weeks. Health care professionals should have a high index of suspicion for SCJ infections in patients with a similar clinical presentation. This case highlights the importance of early and prompt diagnosis of MSSA SCJ infections to prevent sequelae of the disease.





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