Treatment of postoperative anterior cruciate ligament infections with graft removal and early reimplantation

Am J Sports Med. 2003 May-Jun;31(3):414-8. doi: 10.1177/03635465030310031501.


Background: Septic arthritis after arthroscopic anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is rare, and the most appropriate treatment is unclear. Current recommendations are that, if the graft is removed, reimplantation should be delayed for 6 to 9 months.

Hypothesis: Early removal of the graft with appropriate infection management followed by early reimplantation can lead to good results.

Study design: Uncontrolled retrospective review.

Methods: Records of all patients who developed postoperative infection after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction were reviewed. Four patients had early graft removal and appropriate infection management including 6 weeks of intravenous antibiotics followed by anterior cruciate ligament graft reimplantation within 6 weeks of completion of antibiotic therapy.

Results: Follow-up at an average of 21 months (range, 14 to 31) showed that the patients treated with early reimplantation had full symmetric knee range of motion and no effusion. The average modified Lysholm score was 92.5. Radiographs demonstrated no joint-space narrowing or osteophyte formation. The 30-pound KT-1000 arthrometer side-to-side difference averaged 3 mm.

Conclusion: Graft removal after confirmed anterior cruciate ligament graft infection and intravenous antibiotic administration followed by early graft reimplantation can give excellent results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Arthritis, Infectious / etiology
  • Arthritis, Infectious / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / microbiology
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies