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Orthop J Sports Med


© 2018, © The Author(s) 2018. Background: There remains a debate over whether to retain the index anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) graft in the setting of septic arthritis. Purpose: To evaluate and compare clinical outcomes for the treatment of septic arthritis after ACL reconstruction (ACLR) in those with and without early graft retention. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: The Military Health System was queried for all ACLR procedures performed between 2007 and 2013. Inclusion criteria required active military status, primary ACLR with secondary septic arthritis, and minimum 24-month surveillance. Demographic, clinical, and surgical variables were evaluated using descriptive statistics and regression analysis for factors influencing selected outcomes. Results: Of 9511 ACLR procedures, 31 (0.32%) were identified as having secondary septic arthritis requiring urgent arthroscopic irrigation and debridement and intravenous antibiotics (mean, 6.3 weeks). The majority (62%) were treated in the subacute (2 weeks to 2 months) setting. Index ACLR was performed with a hamstring autograft (n = 17, 55%), soft tissue allograft (n = 11, 35%), and patellar tendon autograft (n = 3, 10%). The graft was retained in 71% (n = 22) of patients, while 29% (n = 9) underwent early graft debridement. At a mean 26.9-month follow-up, 48% of patients (n = 15) had returned to the military. Graft removal was not predictive of return to active duty (P =.29). The presence of postoperative complications, including symptomatic postinfection arthritis (22.6%) and arthrofibrosis (9.7%), was the only variable predictive of inability to return to duty (odds ratio, 27.5 [95% CI, 3.24-233.47]; P =.002). Seven of 9 patients who underwent graft debridement underwent revision ACLR, and all 7 had stable knees at final follow-up compared with 68% (15/22) in the graft retention group. Conclusion: Arthroscopic debridement with early graft removal and staged revision ACLR remains a viable option for restoring knee stability (100%), although the rate of return to active duty was low in the graft resection group (33%). The risk of knee laxity did not differ based on early graft retention. Time to presentation with graft retention was not associated with a decreased rate of graft laxity.

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School of Medicine

Primary Department

Orthopedic Surgery





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Orthopedics Commons