Management of the Contaminated Anterior Cruciate Ligament Graft
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PURPOSE: This systematic review explores management strategies for intraoperative anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) graft contamination. METHODS: Two databases (Medline and EMBASE) were screened for studies involving ACL graft contamination published between 1946 and April 2013. We included studies evaluating the management of a contaminated graft and excluded small case-series studies. We conducted a full-text review of eligible studies, and the references were searched for additional eligible studies. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to the searched studies. RESULTS: Our search yielded 6 laboratory investigations with a total of 495 graft samples used. These samples were contaminated and cleansed by various methods. The most successful sterilization protocols used chlorhexidine or mechanical agitation with a polymyxin B-bacitracin solution to achieve sterility in 100% of their respective experimental graft tissues. A chlorhexidine soak and plain bacitracin soak were also effective, at 97.5% and 97%, respectively. Povidone-iodine and an antibiotic soak of polymyxin-bacitracin were the least effective, with sterility rates of 48% and 57%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this review suggest that the optimal agent for sterilizing a dropped graft is chlorhexidine. A protocol of mechanical agitation and serial dilution with a polymyxin B-bacitracin solution was also highly effective; however, the sample size was too small to realistically recommend its use. Bacitracin alone was also found to be an effective sterilization agent, as was a combined solution of neomycin and polymyxin B. Pooled results showed that normal saline solution, povidone-iodine, and a polymyxin B-bacitracin solution all yielded suboptimal sterilization. The available evidence, however, is laboratory based and may not accurately reflect clinical conditions; moreover, there is a lack of biomechanical studies evaluating sterilized grafts. As a result, the findings should be interpreted with caution. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, systematic review of basic science studies.
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