Intra-articular morphine and/or bupivacaine in the management of pain after total knee arthroplasty

D R Mauerhan, M Campbell, J S Miller, J G Mokris, A Gregory, G M Kiebzak
Journal of Arthroplasty 1997, 12 (5): 546-52
The purpose of this study was to determine if intra-articular injection of morphine or bupivacaine significantly decreased postoperative pain as well as the use of intravenous narcotics for pain relief in patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty (TKA). In a prospective, double-blind, randomized fashion, 105 patients undergoing TKA were divided into the following 4 groups defined by the intra-articular injection they received: group 1 (n = 27) received saline solution, group 2 (n = 26) received morphine sulfate (5 mg), group 3 (n = 24) received bupivacaine (50 mg), and group 4 (n = 28) received a combination of morphine sulfate and bupivacaine. The injections were administered immediately after wound closure by the Hemovac drainage tubing that remained clamped for 45 minutes after surgery to allow for absorption. Before surgery and at 2, 4, 6, 24, and 48 hours after surgery, pain intensity was recorded using a visual analog scale. Postoperative supplemental intravenous morphine and/or meperidine was administered via a patient-controlled analgesia device, and 24-hour drug usage was tabulated. Results were suggestive of a modest short-term reduction in pain scores in the morphine and bupivacaine treatment groups compared with placebo (saline); however, results were statistically significant only at 4 hours because of the great variability in the pain score data. The total amount of postoperative pain medication used in the first 24 hours after surgery was not statistically significant between the 4 treatment groups. Thus, the results put into question the benefit of postoperative intra-articular administration of morphine or bupivacaine in patients undergoing TKA.

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