The analgesic efficacy of local infiltration analgesia vs femoral nerve block after total knee arthroplasty: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Br J Anaesth. 2016 May;116(5):597-609. doi: 10.1093/bja/aew099.


Many consider femoral nerve block the gold standard in pain management following knee arthroplasty. Local infiltration analgesia is an alternate approach that applies the concept of surgical wound infiltration with local anaesthetics. This meta-analysis aims to compare both analgesic treatments for analgesia and functional outcomes after total knee arthroplasty. This meta-analysis was performed according to the PRISMA statement guidelines. The primary outcomes were cumulative i.v. morphine consumption, pain scores at rest and on movement on postoperative day one (analogue scale,0-10). Secondary outcomes included range of motion, quadriceps muscle strength, length of stay and rates of complications (neurologic events, cardiovascular events, falls and knee infections). Fourteen trials, including 1122 adult patients were identified. There was no difference in i.v. morphine consumption (mean difference: -2.0 mg; 95% CI: -4.9, 0.9 mg; I(2)=69%; P=0.19), pain scores at rest (mean difference: -0.1; 95% CI: -0.4, 0.3; I(2)=72%; P=0.80) and pain scores on movement (mean difference: 0.2; 95% CI: -0.5, 0.8; I(2)=80%; P=0.64) on postoperative day one (a negative mean difference favours local infiltration analgesia). The qualities of evidence for our primary outcomes were moderate according to the GRADE system. There were no clinical differences in functional outcomes or rates of complications. Complication rates were captured by three trials or fewer with exception of knee infection, which was sought by eight trials. Local infiltration analgesia provides similar postoperative analgesia after total knee arthroplasty to femoral nerve block. Although this meta-analysis did not capture any difference in rates of complications, the low number of trials that specifically sought these outcomes dictates caution.

Keywords: analgesia; nerve block; postoperative pain; regional anaesthesia; total knee arthroplasty.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia / adverse effects
  • Analgesia / methods
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Block / adverse effects
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*


  • Anesthetics, Local