Comparison of patient outcomes in periarticular and intraarticular local anaesthetic infiltration techniques in total knee arthroplasty

J Orthop Surg Res. 2015 Jul 31;10:119. doi: 10.1186/s13018-015-0249-x.


Background: The use of local infiltration analgesia in the setting of knee arthroplasty is well established. There are no studies to date which have directly compared differences in infiltration techniques. The purpose of this study is to establish if a difference in patient outcomes exists when the infiltrate is injected into the periarticular tissues or directly into the joint.

Methods: One hundred and forty-two consecutive patients waitlisted for primary total knee arthroplasty were enrolled after primary exclusion criteria were applied. These included the following: allergy to study drugs, inability to receive spinal anaesthesia, and planned bilateral surgery. Patients were divided into two groups, a periarticular infiltration group (group A) and an intraarticular infiltration group (group B). Secondary exclusion criteria of regular opioid use, psychiatric illness, and serious medical comorbidity left a total of 47 patients in group A and 54 patients in group B. Both groups received a combination of 30 mg ketorolac, 500 μg of adrenaline, and 300 mg of ropivacaine, and normal saline. This was either injected into the periarticular tissues during surgery (group A) or intraarticularly after closure of the wound (group B). Primary outcome measures included opioid consumption during the first 24 h postoperatively and over the total admission, and visual analogue scales (VAS) on postoperative day 1 and at discharge. Secondary measures included Oxford Knee Score, knee flexion, length of stay, haemoglobin drop, and transfusion requirement. Ethics approval was granted by the hospital review board. The trial is registered in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, registration ACTRN12615000488505 .

Results: No statistically significant differences in postoperative analgesic use were observed between the two groups. However, there was a trend toward decreased postoperative patient-controlled analgesia use in the periarticular group (mean 53.1 vs 68.3 mg morphine equivalents; p = 0.093), as well as a statistically significant reduction in postoperative visual analogue pain scores. No statistically significant differences were observed for haemoglobin drop, range of motion, or pre- to 6-week postoperative Oxford Score difference.

Conclusions: Our study is the first we are aware of to directly compare a periarticular to intraarticular injection technique when using local infiltration analgesia for total knee arthroplasty. Our results show no clear statistically significant benefit with either technique. The periarticular group showed a statistically significant reduction in postoperative VAS pain scores alongside a trend in that group toward reduced overall opioid use.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analgesia, Patient-Controlled / methods
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Anesthesia, Local / methods*
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / adverse effects
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Length of Stay / trends
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anesthetics, Local