Pain Management for Ambulatory Arthroscopic Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: Evidence-Based Recommendations From the Society for Ambulatory Anesthesia

Anesth Analg. 2019 Apr;128(4):631-640. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000003976.


Ambulatory arthroscopic anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is associated with moderate pain, even when nonopioid oral analgesics such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used. Regional analgesia can supplement nonopioid oral analgesics and reduce postoperative opioid requirements, but the choice of regional analgesia technique for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction remains controversial. Femoral nerve block, adductor canal block, and local instillation analgesia have all been proposed and are supported by some evidence from randomized controlled trials. Consequently, regional analgesia practice in patients undergoing anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction remains mixed. Published systematic reviews were used to identify the regional analgesia modality that would provide a balance between analgesic efficacy and associated potential risks in the setting of nonopioid multimodal analgesic strategies. Based on the evidence available, local instillation analgesia provides the best balance of analgesic efficacy and associated risks (strong recommendation, moderate level of evidence) when used as a component of multimodal analgesic technique in the first 24 hours after outpatient arthroscopic anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. In the absence of local instillation analgesia, clinicians might use adductor canal block or femoral nerve block (weak recommendation, weak level of evidence). These recommendations have been endorsed by the Society of Ambulatory Anesthesia and approved by its board of directors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Anesthesia / methods*
  • Anesthesia / standards
  • Anesthesia, Conduction / methods
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Arthroscopy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Femoral Nerve
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Nerve Block
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Management / standards
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk
  • Societies, Medical
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Acetaminophen