Incidence and risk factors of surgical site infection and septic arthritis after elective arthroscopy in horses

Brunsting JY, Pille FJ, Oosterlinck M, Haspeslagh M, Wilderjans HC. Vet Surg. 2018 Jan; 47 (1): 52-59.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the incidence of infection and associated risk factors, after elective arthroscopy.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective case study.

ANIMALS: Horses (n=1079) undergoing elective arthroscopy.

METHODS: Medical records of all horses that underwent elective arthroscopy between 2006 and 2013 were reviewed. Age, gender, breed, surgeon, number of joints operated, total anesthetic time, perioperative antimicrobial administration, and the presence and size of osteochondral fragments/subchondral lesions were recorded. For each operated joint, the development of postoperative infection (surgical site infection [SSI] and/or septic arthritis) and long-term outcome (>6 months) were recorded. Multivariate logistic regression was used to test for association between the independent variables and the dependent outcomes.

RESULTS: A total of 1741 joints in 1079 horses underwent arthroscopy. SSI without septic arthritis occurred in 1 fetlock joint (0.14%), 1 tibiotarsal joint (0.19%), and 6 femoropatellar joints (1.67%). Thirteen joints (0.75%) were diagnosed with septic arthritis, including 1 fetlock joint (0.14%), 4 tibiotarsal joints (0.74%), and 8 femoropatellar joints (2.23%). The probability of postoperative SSI was higher when large lesions (>40 mm long) were treated, compared to medium (20-40 mm, P = .005) and small (<20 mm, P < .001) lesions. SSI was a significant risk factor for the development of septic arthritis (P < .001). Although age did not affect the incidence of SSI, increasing age was associated with a lower rate of septic arthritis rate (P = .028).

CONCLUSION: Septic arthritis after elective arthroscopy was more likely in the presence of SSI and younger age. Horses with large lesions were at risk for SSI, which translated into a higher incidence of postoperative septic arthritis after femoropatellar arthroscopy.