Comparison of a continuous temperature-controlled cryotherapy device to a simple icing regimen following outpatient knee arthroscopy

J Knee Surg. 2008 Jan;21(1):15-9. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1247786.


This prospective, randomized study compared postoperative pain control with use of a continuous temperature-controlled cryotherapy system versus a traditional ice therapy regimen following outpatient knee arthroscopy. Patients with unilateral knee pathology scheduled for outpatient arthroscopic surgery were included. Patients with major ligament reconstructions were excluded. A specific cold therapy regimen was begun postoperatively and continued for 2 weeks as adjunctive management of postoperative pain. Preoperative and postoperative pain intensity, pain type, functionality, and sleep quality were assessed. Patients were randomly assigned to either an ice or a continuous cryotherapy group. Follow-up questionnaires were completed on 5 postoperative days. Data were analyzed using a chi-square test with a level of significance at P < 0.05. Fifty-three patients completed the study. Pain intensity was similar between groups throughout the course of the study. Among patients who reported experiencing night pain, 36% of those in the continuous cryotherapy group were able to sleep soundly with minimal awakening through postoperative day 2 versus 5.9% among the ice therapy group (P = 0.04). No significant differences existed between groups regarding functional ability, and no differences were noted on other follow-up days. These findings support use of continuous temperature-controlled cold therapy devices for nighttime pain control and improved quality of life in the early period following routine knee arthroscopy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy / adverse effects*
  • Cryotherapy / instrumentation*
  • Cryotherapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Sleep Deprivation / etiology
  • Sleep Deprivation / prevention & control