To evaluate the impact of local soaking of the autografts with vancomycin during anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction on postoperative infection rates.
Between 2003 and 2014 (first study period), 1,242 patients underwent ACL reconstruction using autografts, without soaking them in vancomycin solution, while between 2014 and 2019 (second study period) all ACL autografts in 593 patients were soaked in a 5-mg/ml vancomycin solution, in a territory University Hospital. The same standard treatment of perioperative IV antibiotics was applied in both groups.
Postoperative septic arthritis occurred in seven out of 1,242 patients (0.56%) during the first study period. Bone patellar tendon bone autograft was used in 311 (25%) patients, and hamstring tendon autograft was used in the rest 931 (75%) of the study population during this period. All infected cases were male and had a hamstrings graft implanted. There were no postoperative infections (0%) in 593 ACL reconstructions during the second study period. Bone patellar tendon bone autograft was used in 178 (30%) patients while hamstring tendon autograft was used in the rest 415 (70%) of the study population, during this period. Statistical analysis revealed a significantly reduced postoperative infection rate (p = 0.018) between the two reported periods, with the main impact referring to the use of hamstrings autograft (p = 0.031) for the first study period.
Septic arthritis following ACL reconstruction can be significantly reduced (or even eliminated) by soaking ACL autografts in a 5 mg/ml vancomycin solution. Of note, this strategy seems to be more effective in the setting of hamstring tendon autograft use, since the risk of postoperative knee infection is significantly higher when this type of graft is used.