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Twenty-eight patients (two of them children) with septic arthritis of twenty-nine wrists were treated with early surgical drainage, parenteral antibiotics, and early motion after surgical decompression. The etiology was trauma in seventeen patients, and Staphylococcus aureus was the organism that was most commonly recovered on culture. In twenty-two patients (twenty-three wrists) who were followed for six months to nine years there were no recurrences. The results were evaluated in terms of range of motion, grip strength, and subjective complaints of discomfort and disability. Of the ten wrists with a good or excellent result, all had had the arthrotomy within ten hours after diagnosis, and of the thirteen with a fair or poor result, surgery had been delayed for sixteen hours or longer. The long-term results deteriorated in direct proportion to increasing time until treatment and the number of procedures performed.