Most adult cases of bacterial-septic-arthritis of a native joint are effectively managed with a single surgical debridement, but some cases may require more than one debridement to control the infection. Consequently, this study assessed the failure rate of a single surgical debridement in adults with bacterial arthritis of a native joint. Additionally, risk factors for failure were assessed./r/nThe review protocol was registered on PROSPERO (CRD42021243460) before data collection and conducted in line with the ‘Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses’ (PRISMA) guidelines. Multiple libraries were systematically searched to identify articles including patients reporting on the incidence of failure (i.e. persistence of infection requiring reoperation) of the treatment of bacterial arthritis. The quality of individual evidence were assessed using the Quality in Prognosis Studies (QUIPS) tool. Failure rates were extracted from included studies and pooled. Risk factors for failure were extracted and grouped. Moreover, we evaluated which risk factors were significantly associated with failure./r/nThirty studies (8,586 native joints) were included in the final analysis. The overall pooled failure rate was 26% (95% CI 20 to 32%). The failure rate of arthroscopy and arthrotomy was 26% (95% CI 19 to 34%) and 24% (95% CI 17 to 33%), respectively. Seventy-nine potential risk factors were extracted and grouped. Moderate evidence was found for one risk factor (synovial white blood cell count), and limited evidence was found for five risk factors (i.e. sepsis, large joint infection, the volume of irrigation, blood urea nitrogen-test, and blood urea nitrogen/creatinine ratio)./r/nA single surgical debridement fails to control bacterial arthritis of a native joint in approximately a quarter of all adult cases. Limited to moderate evidence exists that risk factors associated with failure are: synovial white blood cell count, sepsis, large joint infection, and the volume of irrigation. These factors should urge physicians to be especially receptive to signs of an adverse clinical course.