Acute complications of pediatric and adolescent knee arthroscopy

Ali Ashraf, Christy Marie Christophersen, Lindsay Hunter, Diane Lynn Dahm, Amy L. McIntosh

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Objectives: Arthroscopic knee procedures are commonly performed in pediatric/adolescent patients. Reported complications following these procedures are low, however, no childhood specific data exists. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine the acute complications (within 6 months) of arthroscopic knee procedures in patients aged 17 years or less. Methods: This is a retrospective review of patients aged 17 years or less who underwent an arthroscopic knee procedure from 1997 to 2009 at a single institution. Demographic and surgical data was collected, in addition to specific data on intra-operative and post-operative complications. Minor complications included peripheral nerve block failure, regional anesthesia failure requiring conversion to general anesthesia, superficial wound infection/dehiscence, persistent knee effusion requiring aspiration, and sensory nerve dysesthesia. Major complications included death, major medical complication, septic arthritis, wound requiring repeat closure, arthrofibrosis, equipment failure, and revision surgery. Results: 1015 patients (555 males (54.7%), 460 females (45.3%)) with average age 15.3 (range 4-17) years were analyzed. The average operative time was 133.9 minutes (range 14-520). 467 (46%) underwent ACL reconstruction, 465 (45.8%) underwent synovectomy, treatment of an OCD lesion, meniscal treatment, or lateral release, 52 (5%) had a medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction +/- tibial tubercle transfer, 17 (1.7%) arthroscopic fixation of a tibial eminence fracture, and 14 (1.4%) other ligament reconstruction. There were 147 (14.5%) total complications recorded. Major complications occurred in 21 (1.4%) of patients and minor complications in 126 (12.4%) of patients. Major complications included: intra-articular instrument breakage in 1(0.098%), septic arthritis in 4 patients (0.394%), 9 wounds requiring repeat closure (0.886%), arthrofibrosis in 5 patients (0.492%), unplanned subsequent surgical procedure in 3 patients (0.002%), and death in 1 patient (0.098%). 2 patients were readmitted to the hospital (1 DIC, 1 a-fib and syncope). There were no pulmonary emboli or DVTs, and no vascular injuries. No patients developed CRPS. Minor complications included:5 patients (0.492%) sensory nerve paresthesias, 10 (0.985%) patients with failed regional anesthetic, 16 (1.57%) patients with post-operative pain pump that required early discontinuation, 18(1.77%) patients with superficial wound infection/irritation, 60 (5.91%) patients with persistent effusion/hemarthrosis requiring arthrocentesis, and 17(1.67%) patients had medical problems that required intervention (asthma exacerbation, urinary retention). Conclusion: Major complications following knee arthroscopy in children and adolescents are relatively low 1.4%. Minor complications are more common (12.4%) but did not alter the post-operative course or recovery. DVT, PE, and CRPS did not occur in this patient cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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