Use of hyaluronidase as an adjunct to local anaesthetic eye blocks to reduce intraoperative pain in adults

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Mar 2;3(3):CD010368. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010368.pub2.


Background: Hyaluronidase has been used over many decades as an adjunct to local anaesthetic solution to improve the speed of onset of eye blocks and to provide better akinesia and analgesia. With the evolution of modern eye surgery techniques, fast onset and akinesia are not essential requirements anymore. The assumption that the addition of hyaluronidase to local anaesthetic injections confers better analgesia for the patient needs to be examined. There has been no recent systematic review to provide evidence that hyaluronidase actually improves analgesia.

Objectives: To ascertain if adding hyaluronidase to local anaesthetic solutions for use in ophthalmic anaesthesia in adults results in a reduction of perceived pain during the operation and to assess harms, participant and surgical satisfaction, and economic impact.

Search methods: We carried out systematic searches in Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, Embase, and four other databases in June 2017. We searched the trial registers at, and for relevant trials. We imposed no language restrictions.

Selection criteria: We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated the effect of hyaluronidase on pain experienced by adults during intraocular surgery using a rating scale.

Data collection and analysis: Two review authors (HR and KA) independently extracted data and assessed methodological quality using standard procedures as expected by Cochrane.

Main results: We included seven trials involving 500 participants that studied the effect of hyaluronidase on intraoperative pain. Four of the seven trials with 289 participants reported the primary outcome in a dichotomous manner, and we proceeded to meta-analyse the findings which showed a moderate heterogeneity that could not be explained (I2 = 41% ). The pooled risk ratio (RR) for these four trials was 0.83 with the 95% confidence interval ranging from 0.48 to 1.42. The reduction in intraoperative pain scores in the hyaluronidase group were not statistically significant. Among the three trials that reported the primary outcome in a continuous manner, the presence of missing data made it difficult to conduct a meta-analysis. To further explore the data, we imputed standard deviations for the other studies from another included RCT (Sedghipour 2012). However, this resulted in substantial heterogeneity between study estimates (I² = 76% ). The lack of reported relevant data in two of the three remaining trials made it difficult to assess the direction of effect in a clinical setting.Overall, there was no statistical difference regarding the intraoperative reduction of pain scores between the hyaluronidase and control group. All seven included trials had a low risk of bias.According to GRADE, we found the quality of evidence was low and downgraded the trials for serious risk of inconsistency and imprecision. Therefore, the results should be analysed with caution.Participant satisfaction scores were significantly higher in the hyaluronidase group in two high quality trials with 122 participants. Surgical satisfaction was also superior in two of three high quality trials involving 141 participants. According to GRADE, the quality of evidence was moderate for participant and surgical satisfaction as the trials were downgraded for imprecision due to the small sample sizes. The risk of bias in these trials was low.There was no reported harm due to the addition of hyaluronidase in any of the studies. No study reported on the cost of hyaluronidase in the context of eye surgery.

Authors' conclusions: The effects of adding hyaluronidase to local anaesthetic fluid on pain outcomes in people undergoing eye surgery are uncertain due to the low quality of evidence available. A well designed RCT is required to address inconsistency and imprecision among the studies and to determine the benefit of hyaluronidase to improve analgesia during eye surgery. Participant and surgical satisfaction is higher with hyaluronidase compared to the control groups, as demonstrated in moderate quality studies. There was no harm attributed to the use of hyaluronidase in any of the studies. Considering that harm was only rarely defined as an outcome measure, and the overall small number of participants, conclusions cannot be drawn about the incidence of harmful effects of hyaluronidase. None of the studies undertook cost calculations with regards to use of hyaluronidase in local anaesthetic eye blocks.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Analgesics / administration & dosage*
  • Anesthesia, Local / methods
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronoglucosaminidase / administration & dosage*
  • Intraoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Procedural / prevention & control*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Analgesics
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Hyaluronoglucosaminidase