Corticosteroid injections 2 months before arthroscopic meniscectomy increases the rate of postoperative infections requiring surgical irrigation and debridement

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2022 Nov;30(11):3796-3804. doi: 10.1007/s00167-022-06981-w. Epub 2022 May 27.


Purpose: Consensus guidelines recommend administering a corticosteroid injection (CSI) for patients with a symptomatic degenerative meniscus lesion prior to arthroscopic partial meniscectomy (APM). A recent study found that CSI administered within 1 month prior to meniscectomy is associated with an increased risk of postoperative infection. However, infections may range in severity from superficial infections to serious infections requiring surgical interventions. The aim of this analysis was to define the rate of infections requiring surgery after APM and determine its relationship to preoperative CSI.

Methods: The PearlDiver Mariner administrative claims database was queried for patients > 35 years old who had a CSI in the year prior to isolated APM. Rates of deep infection and infection requiring surgery within 6 months were reported between matched patients with a CSI and no injection.

Results: After matching, there were 16,009 patients per group with a mean age of 59.4 years (SD = 9.6), 53.5% obesity, and 40% male. Forty-four of 113 patients who developed a postoperative deep infection went on to have a reoperation for irrigation and/or debridement (0.1% of all APM). Of these 44 patients, 30 had a preoperative CSI and 14 were controls unadjusted odds ratio (unadj-OR) if given CSI = 1.95, 95% CI 1.03-3.68, P = 0.04). Having a CSI within the month before surgery conferred a 4.56-fold increase in odds of an infection warranting surgery (95% CI 1.96-10.21, P < 0.01), whilst having a CSI 4-8 weeks before surgery conferred a 2.42-fold increase in odds (95% CI 1.04-5.42, P = 0.03). Receiving multiple CSI in the year prior to APM was associated with 5.27-fold increased odds of an infection requiring surgery (95% CI 1.19-23.27, P = 0.03), compared to having a single CSI.

Conclusions: Serious infections requiring a surgical intervention are rare after a meniscectomy, occurring in 0.1% of APMs in a matched cohort of patients over 35. Patients were five times more likely to return to the operating room for infection after APM if they had a CSI in the month before or had multiple CSIs in the year before surgery. The risk of infection was no longer significant if there was at least a 2-month interval between preoperative CSI and APM.

Level of evidence: Level III.

Keywords: Arthroscopy; Big data; Complications; Infection; Irrigation and debridement; Knee; Meniscectomy; Meniscus.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Arthroscopy* / adverse effects
  • Debridement
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meniscectomy* / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones