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Acta Orthop. 2011 Dec;82(6):692-8. doi: 10.3109/17453674.2011.625535. Epub 2011 Oct 25.

Intraarticular vs. extraarticular ropivacaine infusion following high-dose local infiltration analgesia after total knee arthroplasty: a randomized double-blind study.

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Department of Rheumasurgery, Spenshult Hospital, Oskarström, Sweden.



Ropivacaine infusion following high-volume local infiltration analgesia has been shown to be effective after total knee arthroplasty, but the optimum site of administration of ropivacaine has not been evaluated. We compared the effects of intraarticular and extraarticular adminstration of the local anesthetic for postoperative supplementation of high-volume local infiltration analgesia.


In this double-blind study, 36 rheumatic patients aged 51-78 years with physical status ASA 2-3 who were scheduled for total knee arthroplasty were randomized into 2 groups. All patients received wound infiltration at the end of surgery with 300 mg ropivacaine, 30 mg ketorolac, and 0.5 mg epinephrine (total volume 156 mL). A tunneled catheter was randomly placed either extraarticularly or intraarticularly. Continuous infusion of ropivacain (0.5%, 2 mL/h) was started immediately and was maintained during the next 48 h. Pain intensity at rest, on movement, and with mobilization was estimated by the patients and the physiotherapist; rescue morphine consumption was recorded.


As estimated by the patients, ropivacaine administered intraarticularly did not improve analgesia relative to extraarticular infusion, but improved the first mobilization. The incidence of high intensity of pain (VAS 7-10) was less in the group with intraarticular infusion. Analgesic requirements were similar in the 2 groups (47 mg and 49 mg morphine). No complications of postoperative wound healing were seen and there were no toxic side effects.


Continuous infusion of ropivacaine intraarticulary did not improve postoperative analgesia at rest relative to extraarticular administration, but it appeared to reduce the incidence of high pain intensity during first exercises, and could therefore be expected to improve mobilization up to 24 h after total knee arthroplasty.

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