Postoperative pain control following arthroscopic release of adhesive capsulitis: a short-term retrospective review study of the use of an intra-articular pain catheter

Ken Yamaguchi, Navinder Sethi, Gregory S Bauer
Arthroscopy 2002, 18 (4): 359-65

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of an arthroscopically placed intra-articular pain catheter for controlling postoperative pain and also review the results following arthroscopic release of refractor adhesive capsulitis.

TYPE OF STUDY: Retrospective clinical trial.

METHODS: Twenty-three consecutive cases (20 patients) of arthroscopic adhesive capsulitis release in which an intra-articular pain catheter was used were reviewed. Follow-up ranged from 12 to 37 months (average, 22.4 months). An intra-articular catheter was placed under direct arthroscopic visualization from a superior approach into the glenohumeral joint. Postoperatively, patients were injected with 10 mL of 0.5% bupivacaine every 6 hours as needed. Preoperatively, all patients had filled out a questionnaire based on the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) outcome guidelines and examined for range of motion. Postoperatively, patients were asked for their precatheter and postcatheter injection pain level based on the visual analog scale (1 to 10 points, 1 = no pain). Patients were then examined for range of motion and retested with the outcome questionnaire. An ASES Shoulder Score Index was calculated for each patient before and after the procedure.

RESULTS: The average forward elevation preoperatively was 102 degrees and external rotation at the side was 4.5 degrees. At most recent follow-up, average forward elevation was 169 degrees with external rotation at the side 47 degrees. The Shoulder Score Index increased from an average of 37.1 out of 100 to 90.9 (P <.001). Before being injected with anesthetic through the catheter, patients had an average visual analog scale score of 8.1. Postinjection average pain level was 1.2 (P <.001) and all patients indicated that the pain catheter significantly reduced postoperative pain. Nineteen of 20 patients were satisfied with the procedure.

CONCLUSIONS: Placement of an intra-articular pain catheter for delivery of bupivacaine was highly effective in controlling postoperative pain. In all cases, postoperative pain was essentially eliminated and this substantially assisted with range of motion exercises. Near complete restoration of range of motion without pain was achieved in 95% of the patients.

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