Chun's Recovery from Infection post ACL Surgery

by Lincoln Peh
(Melbourne, Australia)

My daugter showing the drainage container to draw fluid out of my infected knee.

My daugter showing the drainage container to draw fluid out of my infected knee.

Hi Everyone,

I am from Melbourne, Australia. I'd like to share my thoughts on a difficult journey so far.

I had a right knee ACL reconstruction (hamstring autograft) on the 22 July 2009. All went well. I was out of the hospital the next day on clutches. Physio began 3rd day. On the 4th day, I was able to fully extend my knee and flex to 90 degrees. On the 8th day, I was able to walk without crutches.

On the morning of the 10th day, I woke up with extreme pain and sudden swollen knee and slight fever. As it was the beginning of a weekend, I was unable to contact my surgeon. I endured the weekend with the strongest painkillers I have got. It was tough.

12th day, Monday, I turned up at my surgeon's clinic. Ordered immediate X-rays and blood test. The wound itself looks clean, no signs of infection. Suspect inflammation from over-activity. Surgeon ordered to stop physio sessions.

15th day, follow-up appointment with Surgeon. Still swollen, fever pain, lost range of motion. Suspect infection. Admitted to hospital, evening surgery to 'wash up' infected areas. After surgery, it was the first time in many days I was pain free, what a relieve! Surgeon now believes there is an infection from the 'cloudy fluids' inside. Was put on an antibiotics called Flucloxacillin via IV. Tissues from surgery sent to lab for bacteria culture.

19th day, lab confirmed bacteria was Staphy Epidermidis. Antibiotics was changed to Vancomycin via IV. Daily blood test to measure CPR which has been dropping.

23rd day - today. Discharging from hospital. Can fully extend knee and flex to 90 degrees and walk gingerly without crutches. Will be on oral antibiotics (rimycin, fucidin) for one month.

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Jun 09, 2016
Fever last even after wash out NEW
by: Christina

Hi Chun, glad to have found your blog as knee infection after ACL is so rare. I just had my knee wash 9ut procedure done 3 days ago but I an still experiencing fever. The liquids they extracted from my knee wasn't very helpful to the culture lab as I was already on antibiotics. I have been on vancomycin and another pretty strong antibiotics through iv for 5 days now. I am atoll in fever and feel like nothing has changed..I was wondering, did your fever stop right after the wash out or it still lasted a few days? Thank you for sharing your experience?

Nov 02, 2015
post ACL Surgery NEW
by: Anonymous

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Oct 28, 2015
ACL Surgery NEW
by: Anonymous

Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it's truly informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!


Oct 14, 2015
Chun's Recovery from Infection NEW
by: Anonymous

We're a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with valuable info to work on. You have done a formidable job and our entire community will be grateful to you.


Sep 28, 2015
Acl surgery NEW
by: Anonymous

I had ACL surgery in July 2012, went through the motions and did PT and returned to work 6 months later. Knee still hurt but just chalked it up to regular pains due to surgery. Well, here I am 3 years later and I still cannot bend my knee the way it should be. When I push myself to hard my knee swells up and runs a fever in it. I honestly think something seriously is still wrong with my knee. I contacted the doctors office that performed the surgery and explained the situation to them and the nurse acted as if I needed to rush in right away. All to be told that I wasn't able to be seen there anymore. Anyhow, any answers as to why I may be having these issues still? Tia for the input.

Feb 01, 2013
Infection help !! NEW
by: Anonymous

I had my acl surgery on December 7th but in my case I was not able to do much after the surgery. Since it was my first surgery I thought it was all normal. A week and a half later I was not able to tolerate the pain so had to immediately go to the hospital and get my blood tested for infection . I had a 2nd surgery to get my knee washed out on December 17th And was put on antibiotics for 6 weeks. I was on penicilin at first, but was allergic so was changed to vancomycin. Since the surgery and being put on the vancomycin, I have been progressing but I am still behind where I am suppose to be. My range of motion after 6 weeks after the 17th of December is 120 and my leg is close to being completely straight.

My question is
Is the infection going to affect me on being able to get my range of motion back?
I hear that if you don't get it in 6 weeks then you most likely ain't going to get it back .
I love playing sports and losing my range of motion would truly affect my game ?
How effective is manipulation of the knee???
I am a bit concerned since time is passing and I feel like I can't go past 120 no matter how much I stretch?

Mar 04, 2011
infection too hard
by: shalini

2nd AUG 2010
treated with acl in left knee(hamstring)
everything was fine until 15th Aug.
at the time of stiches removal even for portals i collapsed due to pain.
then the journey of pain started
suferring from mild fever and lots of pain
my surgeon advised me to have painkillers and antibiotics. but the flexion of knee was good.
22nd august visitd to doctor and remaning stiches were removed. the wound seemed to be fine.
but the pain continued so had few painkillers more.
27th aug seen the reddish swollen thing on the knee.
even suffering from the mild fever.
28th aug rushed to doctor.
he take few blood samples to check crp and esr
which showed the positive result after 2 hrs.
my 1st wash out operation was held and liquid was taken out from the knee and sent for examining.
bacterias were growing so 2 days after a knee wash out operation was held. and after that antbiotics were given for 6 mnth.
thanks to my doctor for i am normal almost.
all the best for all of u.

Sep 29, 2010
acl reco 14 days on
by: Anonymous

i have just had acl reconstruction 2 weeks today i have noticed for the past 3 nights and 4 days that i have had fever sore muscles sore knee and there is a lump where the screw has been fixated in my femur this is my 3 surgery in 10 months after a car accident. i am hot of a night time sleeping with the window open and freezing in the morning with a headache almost light a hang over. my leg is restless at a night time and i find it hard to sleep i feel tired but i cant seem to rest soon as i start i am restless.
i am having fevers of a night yet freezing during the day but sweating alot i am not sure if this is part of the drugs getting out of my system or signs of an infection???

Aug 27, 2010
There is a way to prevent ACLR Infection -Ask you surgeon.
by: John

I had ACLR surgery on the Gold Coast with Dr Christopher Vertullo. He mentioned the risk of infection, but said he had invented a new technique of preventing infection by soaking the graft in antibiotics. SInce he started the new method, he hasn't had any infections and has done over a thousand. He is just now introducing the new method to other surgeons in Australia.

Good Luck.

Apr 14, 2010
Knee infection
by: scott

Had minor orthoscopic knee surgery. It went great..dancing a week later. Then sudden onset of intense pain on a Sunday eve. Big time pain killers all night Pain unbearable. Doc visit..drained knee..infected. Hospitalized and he operated again. In hospital one two days they figured out it was strep b in knee.

Recovery unbelievably slow. 5 weeks..still crutches. pain all the time. Struggling with balance between pain meds and negatives of that and putting up with pain. Starting to get range of motion...can ride excercise bike with short pedals. I cannot believe its taking this knee which was operated on twice to feel better.

Mar 04, 2010
Think I am going through the same thing!!
by: Anonymous

I had ACL surgery Feb 11 using my hamstring. Started PT one week after surgery. The Sat night of the second week began having chills in the evening. Finally decided to take my temp and it was 101.4. During the day around 99. They have drained my knee twice and each time the swelling comes back. Losing ROM from when I started PT and now cannot bear any weight on it at all. They have run bloodwork and sent the fluid from the knee to be tested, but I still have not hear anything. Today was exactly 3 weeks after surgery and I am still in pain, still on crutches and very frustrated. I feel my surgeon is trying to brush it off as more of a cold or a virus thing. I wish he were being a little more proactive. This is very serious!!

Feb 17, 2010
post ACL Surgery
by: Amod

I was operated a month ago, first two weeks were great with good recovery and range. But in 3rd week started having fever, but there was no swelling over the patella, no redness no unbearable pain, swelling was there but it above knee near quadricep. yes there was loss of range. i was doing 100 deg it used to reduce to 70 deg. when the fever was not there i was able to bend my knee more than 90 deg. Met my sugeon he gave a 5 day course of antiobiotics. After the course also the fever was there. For past 2 days fever has dropped again range is back. Yesterday met my surgeon again, he suspects fever might be due to viral infection and not due to infection in the knee. He has asked to carry out some routine medical checkups.
Keeping fingers crossed thats its viral fever and would be treated and wont have to undergo infection surgery.
All the best for your recovery.

Nov 28, 2009
7 weeks post ACL reconstruction infection
by: Lord of Surgery

Just got out of the hospital tonight, here is my story. I was 7 weeks post surgery, brand new graff to me, PT was going great. Almost running and thought I was home free. Last Wed it started hurting at bedtime. By Saturday could not move it and it was swollen. Many calls in and complaints, the doctor saw me this past Tuesday and took my temp, no fever. He thought, possible tear of scar tissue. He drew the fluid and his face changed to nervous. He sent me to the hosipital with fluid in tow and to draw more blood. By that evening, I was under the knife again having all my ACL torn out and they cleaned the bacteria infected area. Not poo bacteria, some other one. Thanksgiving in the hospital, nervous kneed, and never a fever, I finally am at home with more scars, swollen, pain in bareable. I have a cathader under my coller bone where I will be administering the antiobiotics for the next 6 weeks every 8 hours. What happened here? Why me? It was all OK, but then all torn down. Mentally I am devastated, cant believe I have to start all over again in a couple of months with another surgery. No real answers, no real definition, less than 1% and told in the 24 years of him doing this surgery, he has not seen anything like this so far post surgery with no feveror real signs of infection . Could this have been detected earlier? I am sick of being compared to Tom Brady. Anyone else gone down this awfully devastatingly terrible path of destruction?

Sep 01, 2009
Reply to Rob
by: Lincoln Peh

Hi Rob,

Oops. The last thing I wanted to do was to scare every pre-ACL-reconstruction patient out there.

"Why did I have that infection?". This question played in my mind all the time. "Was it the bad sushi I had that day?", "If only I had cleaned my bedsheets.", "Perhaps I should have just stayed at home for two weeks and not go out...", etc etc.

The fact is, chances of infection are very low, well, in developed nations anyway. Apparently, statistically it is less than 1 percent. I had seaked opinions of several doctors (GPs, etc) and all confirmed that there was 'nothing really much I could have done' and that 'it was a matter of chance' and 'bad luck'.

I am no doctor, I am just speaking from my own experiences. Hope my answer helps...

Aug 31, 2009
by: Rob

Thanks for story.

I am probably going for ACL surgery in a couple of weeks time and am freaked out by the risks that might occur.

One of them, as experienced by yourself is infection. Did the doctor mention, how this came about or was it purely a matter of chance? I understand that probability of infection was very low?

Take care

Aug 18, 2009
good luck with your continued recovery
by: Bart - SII

Thanks for posting your story. There are definitely other visitors who will learn from your experience and who will be able to relate what you have been through in the last month.

It sounds like your infection is under control, and that you are going to be able to resume your rehabilitation soon. And prior to the infection, you were doing well. Keep up the rehab, take your time, and you will do well.

Good luck with your continued recovery. Please keep us updated on how you are doing.



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