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Br J Anaesth. 2013 Nov;111(5):793-9. doi: 10.1093/bja/aet248. Epub 2013 Jul 19.

Postoperative pain relief after total hip arthroplasty: a randomized, double-blind comparison between intrathecal morphine and local infiltration analgesia.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care.



Postoperative pain after total hip arthroplasty (THA) can delay mobilization. This was assessed after intrathecal morphine (ITM) compared with local infiltration analgesia (LIA) using a non-inferiority design.


Eighty patients were recruited in this randomized, double-blind study. ITM 0.1 mg (Group ITM) or periarticular local anaesthetic (ropivacaine 300 mg)+ketorolac 30 mg+ epinephrine 0.5 mg (total volume 151.5 ml) (Group LIA) were compared. After 24 h, 22 ml of saline (Group ITM) or ropivacaine (150 mg)+ketorolac (30 mg)+epinephrine (0.1 mg) (Group LIA) were injected via a catheter. After operation, rescue analgesic consumption, pain intensity, and home-readiness were measured.


Morphine consumption was equivalent, median difference 0 mg (95% confidence interval -4 to 4.5) between the groups at 0-24 h. During 24-48 h, it was lower in Group LIA (3 mg, 0-60 mg, median, range) compared with Group ITM (10 mg, 0-81 mg) (P=0.01). Lower pain scores were recorded at rest at 8 h in Group ITM (P<0.01), but in Group LIA on standing and mobilization, at 24-48 h (P<0.01). Paracetamol and tramadol consumption was lower in Group LIA (P=0.05 and 0.05, respectively) as was pruritus, nausea, and vomiting (P<0.05).


Lower pain intensity was recorded early after surgery in ITM group but later, analgesic consumption, pain intensity on mobilization, and side-effects were lower in patients receiving LIA. LIA is a good alternative to ITM in patients undergoing THA.


analgesic techniques, infiltration; pain, postoperative; surgery, orthopaedic

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