Diagnosis of acute gonococcal arthritis has been hampered by the lack of a reliable and specific procedure for the detection of gonococcal antibodies. The indirect immunofluorescent method, using formalin-fixed smears of Neisseria gonorrhoeae organisms, has provided a sensitive and specific method for measurement of this antibody. Gonococcal antibody was present in 19 of 22 patients (86%) with definite and 17 of 35 patients (49%) with presumptive gonococcal arthritis. Only seven of 42 patients (17%) with active Reiter's syndrome gave positive reactions. Patients with acute infectious arthritis caused by other organisms gave negative results. Cross reactivity of gonococcal arthritis sera with Mimea polymorpha was not observed.
The results indicate that the method described provides a means for specific recognition of gonococcal antibodies, and permits epidemiologic study of gonococcal infection and its complications.