Much ado about nothing: the effect of tourniquet time on an accelerated rehabilitation programme following total knee replacement (TKR)

  • William Wynell-Mayow
  • Muhammad Zahid Saeed
Original Article • KNEE - ARTHROPLASTY



The WHO includes osteoarthritis as a disease of priority, owing to its significant impact on quality of life, and globally increasing prevalence. Hospital budgets are under pressure to ration knee replacements and shorten inpatient stays. Prolonged tourniquet application has been hypothesised to extend recovery through pain and reduced mobility.

Patients and methods

A total of 123 elective total knee replacements meeting inclusion criteria took place from July 2015 to October 2017 at the Royal Free Hospital. Cases were standardised by method of TKR, implant, physiotherapy and analgesic regime according to the trust Enhanced Recovery after Surgery pathway. Tourniquet time was compared to length-of-stay post-operatively and total opioid analgesia requirement over 24 h.


Median tourniquet time overall was 74 min and was decreased year-on-year from 108 to 60 min (p = 0.000). Inpatient median length-of-stay was 5 days and did not decrease (p = 0.667). Increased tourniquet time was not associated with longer length-of-stay but in fact shorter (p = 0.03199), likely due to this confounding temporal trend. Increased tourniquet time was not associated with increased opioid requirement (p = 0.78591). No association was found between tourniquet time and other complications including DVT and infection.


Our study finds no evidence that reductions in tourniquet time in TKR improve recovery including length-of-stay or opioid requirement. This clinical data is expected to augment PROMs collected by the National Joint Registry.


Knee Arthroplasty Tourniquet Analgesia Enhanced recovery 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

William Wynell-Mayow and Muhammad Zahid Saeed declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Trauma and OrthopaedicsRoyal Free HospitalLondonUK

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