Meta-analysis of the Risk of Infections After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction by Graft Type

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Abstract

Background:

An infection after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is a relatively rare but challenging complication. There are no meta-analyses comparing the incidence of infections after ACL reconstruction with the various available graft choices.

Purpose:

To compare the incidence of infections after ACL reconstruction with bone–patellar tendon–bone (BPTB) autografts compared with hamstring autografts, with a secondary aim of comparing the incidence of infections after reconstruction with autografts compared with allografts.

Study Design:

Meta-analysis.

Methods:

A systematic review was performed to identify level 1 and 2 studies that reported the incidence of infections by graft type after ACL reconstruction. Studies that evaluated patients undergoing primary ACL reconstruction with an autograft, allograft, or combination of autograft and allograft and reported the number of postoperative infections by graft type utilized were considered for inclusion. Studies were excluded if they included revision ACL reconstruction or did not specify the number of infections by graft type. Study findings were reviewed, and meta-analysis was performed when data were sufficiently homogeneous.

Results:

Twenty-one studies meeting criteria were identified from the literature review. Meta-analysis revealed a significant difference in the incidence of deep infections between BPTB autografts and hamstring autografts, with the BPTB group displaying a 77% lower incidence of infections compared with the hamstring group (relative risk [RR], 0.23; 95% CI, 0.097-0.54). The incidence of infections was 66% lower with BPTB autografts compared with all other graft types, with a pooled RR of 0.33 (95% CI, 0.15-0.71). There was no significant difference in the incidence of infections after ACL reconstruction with autografts compared with allografts (RR, 1.035; 95% CI, 0.589-1.819).

Conclusion:

The findings of this meta-analysis demonstrate a significantly lower incidence of deep infections after ACL reconstruction with BPTB autografts compared with hamstring autografts but not compared with allografts.

Clinical Relevance:

Although the overall infection rate after ACL reconstruction is relatively low, the significantly higher rate of infections with hamstring autografts compared with BPTB autografts should be a consideration when discussing graft choices for ACL reconstruction.

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