Rates of Septic Arthritis After ACL Reconstruction: A Single-Center Analysis Highlighting Quadriceps Tendon Grafts

ÖZBEK E. A., Dadoo S., Chang A., Simonian L., Sebastiani R., Herman Z., ...More

AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/03635465231165509
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EBSCO Education Source, Education Abstracts, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, SportDiscus
  • Keywords: ACLR, septic arthritis, infection, quadriceps tendon, graft, CRUCIATE LIGAMENT RECONSTRUCTION, INFECTION
  • Ankara University Affiliated: No


Background: Although the infection rates for bone-patellar tendon-bone autograft (BTB), hamstring tendon autograft (HT), and allograft have been reported previously, there are limited data available for a large cohort of individuals undergoing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (ACLR) using quadriceps tendon autograft (QT). Purpose: The aims of this study are (1) to compare rates of septic arthritis after primary and revision ACLR with QT, BTB, HT, and allograft and (2) to evaluate the association between an infection after ACLR and potential risk factors in a large single-system analysis. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: All ACLR cases performed by 10 high-volume sports medicine fellowship-trained ACL surgeons between January 2000 and January 2022 were retrospectively analyzed. Minimum follow-up was 90 days after ACLR, and all multiligament reconstructions were excluded. Demographic information, surgical variables, infection characteristics, and rate of ACL graft retention were collected for all included patients. Independent samples t test, chi-square test, or Fisher exact tests with adjusted Benjamini-Hochberg post hoc procedure were used for group comparisons. Results: In total, 6652 patients were included in this study. The most commonly used graft was allograft (n = 2491; 37.4%), followed by HT (n = 1743; 26.2%), BTB (n = 1478; 22.2%), and QT (n = 940; 14.1%). The overall postoperative rate of septic arthritis was 0.34% (n = 23). Septic arthritis rates based on graft type were 0.74% (n = 13) for HT, 0.24% (n = 6) for allograft, 0.20% (n = 3) for BTB, and 0.10% (n = 1) for QT. While a statistically significant difference with regard to graft type (P = .01) was observed, no significant relationships were found between postoperative septic arthritis and age, sex, revision ACLR, ACLR surgical technique, and accompanying intra-articular procedures for all septic arthritis patients (P > .05). The average time from the onset of the symptoms of infection to surgical irrigation and debridement (I&D) was 2 days (minimum, 0; maximum, 6). ACL grafts were retained during I&D procedures in all patients with postoperative septic arthritis. Conclusion: The postoperative rate of septic arthritis was 0.1% after use of the QT autograft. While graft choice may affect rates of septic arthritis after ACLR, patient characteristics, ACLR technique, revision ACLR, and accompanying intra-articular procedures during ACLR were not associated with postoperative septic arthritis with the numbers available for analysis.