, Volume 129, Issue 3, pp 343-348
Date: 26 Mar 2008

Pre-emptive intra-articular administration of local anaesthetics/opiates versus postoperative local anaesthetics/opiates or local anaesthetics in arthroscopic surgery of the knee joint: a prospective randomized trial

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Arthroscopic surgery on the knee joint is increasingly being performed as day-case surgery. This necessitates adequate postoperative pain therapy. We performed a study to compare three different intra-articular regimens of pain treatment. The hypothesis was that preoperative intra-articular pain management is superior to postoperative procedures.


In this study we compared the preoperative administration of 0.1 mg fentanyl + 5 ml bupivacaine 0.5% with the postoperative administration of either 0.1 mg fentanyl + 5 ml bupivacaine 0.5% or 5 ml bupivacaine 0.5% alone in a total of 564 patients. Participants were randomly assigned to three groups. Each group was subdivided into patients with and without synovitis.


The preoperative administration of fentanyl and bupivacaine significantly decreased the perceived pain. The efficiency increased with major arthroscopic procedures. Postoperative administration of bupivacaine alone had the least effect. There was variation within each group depending on whether synovitis was present or not.


This study demonstrated the superiority of the preoperative intra-articular administration of a combination of fentanyl and local anaesthetic over postoperative fentanyl and local anaesthetic or postoperative local anaesthetic alone.