The efficacy of intra-articular ketamine for postoperative analgesia in outpatient arthroscopic surgery

Arthroscopy. 2004 Mar;20(3):300-5. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2003.11.038.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the postoperative analgesic effects of intra-articularly administered ketamine, neostigmine, and bupivacaine after outpatient arthroscopic surgery.

Type of study: Prospective, randomized, double-blind, clinical study.

Methods: In this study, 60 patients undergoing arthroscopic surgery other than ligament reconstruction were evaluated for postoperative pain. Ketamine, neostigmine, and bupivacaine were administered intra-articularly. The period of effective analgesia, recorded in minutes, was measured between time 0 and first usage of patient-controlled anesthesia (PCA) by the patients. The visual analog scale (VAS) was used to describe the pain level of the patient.

Results: VAS values were lower for the 3 medication groups compared with the placebo at rest and 90 degrees knee flexion. Intra-articular administration of 0.5 mg/kg ketamine provided longer duration of analgesia as defined by the first PCA use time (P <.05). The total amount of pethidine and analgesia time were longer for the 3 medication groups.

Conclusions: Our basic finding was reduction in postoperative pain and consumption of adequate analgesic drugs with intra-articular ketamine, bupivacaine, or neostigmine use. We have not seen any psychomimetic side effects, particularly as seen with higher doses or systemic use. This study may conclude that intra-articular administration of ketamine provides long-lasting and effective analgesia, similar to neostigmine but less effective than bupivacaine after knee arthroscopy without any adverse effects. LEVEL OF EVEIDENCE: Level I.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures
  • Analgesics / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use
  • Arthroscopy
  • Bupivacaine / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Ketamine / administration & dosage*
  • Ketamine / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neostigmine / therapeutic use
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*


  • Analgesics
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Neostigmine
  • Ketamine
  • Bupivacaine