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20.03.2018 | Knee | Ausgabe 10/2018

Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy 10/2018

Septic arthritis after arthroscopic posterior cruciate ligament and multi-ligament reconstructions is rare and can be successfully treated with arthroscopic irrigation and debridement: analysis of 866 reconstructions

Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy > Ausgabe 10/2018
Philipp Schuster, Markus Geßlein, Philipp Mayer, Michael Schlumberger, Raul Mayr, Jörg Richter



The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of septic arthritis following arthroscopic posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and multi-ligament reconstructions, and to evaluate a treatment regime with sequential arthroscopic irrigation and debridement procedures combined with antibiotic therapy that is focused on retention of the graft.


Between 2004 and 2016 a total of 866 PCL reconstructions and multi-ligament reconstructions were performed at our institution (408 isolated PCL reconstructions, 458 combined reconstructions). Medical charts of all cases were retrospectively reviewed with regard to the occurrence of septic complications. These cases were analysed with special focus on clinical management, number of reoperations and if the grafts were retained. Further, microbiological findings, postoperative clinical course and available clinical outcome data were evaluated.


Four cases of septic arthritis (0.5%) were identified (follow-up rate 96.5%): two following isolated PCL reconstruction (0.5%), and two following multi-ligament reconstruction (0.4%), respectively. Septic arthritis was successfully treated in all cases with a mean of 2.5 ± 2.4 irrigation and debridement procedures (1–6). In one case of isolated PCL reconstruction, the graft was resected within the fifth irrigation and debridement due to septic loosing of the femoral fixation. All other grafts were retained. With regard to the outcome, all patients were subjectively satisfied with good stability (stress radiographs) in cases of retained grafts.


Postoperative septic arthritis after arthroscopic PCL and complex knee ligament reconstructions is a rare but serious complication. Arthroscopic graft-retaining treatment is recommended, as it is established in ACL surgery. Graft retention can be expected in the majority of the cases.

Level of evidence

Case series, Level 4.

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