Background and objective: The analgesic potency of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen are still being debated. We have assessed the relative analgesic effect of ibuprofen, acetaminophen or the combination of both after orthopaedic surgery.
Methods: Sixty-one ASA I patients, scheduled for an elective anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction under general anaesthesia were randomized, in a double blind fashion, into one of three groups. The ibuprofen group (n = 17) received ibuprofen 800 mg orally 1 h before operation and again at 6 and 12 h after the initial dose. The acetaminophen group (n = 20) received of acetaminophen 1 g orally at the same time intervals. The combination group (n = 24) received both ibuprofen 800 mg and acetaminophen 1 g. Surgery was performed under general anaesthesia with propofol and fentanyl for induction and maintenance with propofol and nitrous oxide in oxygen. The patients were monitored for 24 h thereafter, and the following variables were assessed: pain by visual analogue and verbal scales, need for rescue intravenous opioid analgesia (i.e. ketobemidone) and adverse events.
Results: The ibuprofen group and the combination group experienced significantly less pain during the first 6 h after surgery than the acetaminophen group using the visual analogue and the verbal scales. The acetaminophen group also had a significantly higher average consumption of opioids during the first 6 and 24 h. There were no significant differences between the ibuprofen group and the combination group in respect of experienced pain or consumption of rescue analgesia. The incidence of side-effects, postoperative haemoglobin concentration and renal function, judged by creatinine clearance, were identical between the groups.
Conclusion: Ibuprofen 800 mg thrice daily reduced pain to a greater degree than acetaminophen 1 g thrice daily, after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction under general anaesthesia. The combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen did not provide any superior analgesic effect.