Author(s): Allen HW, Liu SS, Ware PD, Nairn CS, Owens BD
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Abstract Total knee replacement (TKR) produces severe postoperative pain. Peripheral nerve blocks can be used as analgesic adjuncts for TKR, but the efficacy of femoral nerve blocks alone is controversial. The sciatic nerve innervates posterior regions of the knee; thus, performance of both sciatic and femoral nerve blocks may be necessary to improve analgesia after TKR. We performed this study to determine whether peripheral nerve blocks improve analgesia after TKR. In a randomized, double-blind fashion, 36 patients undergoing TKR received either femoral, sciatic-femoral, or sham nerve blocks after a standardized spinal anesthetic. Further postoperative analgesia was provided by patient-controlled i.v. morphine and ketorolac. Pain at rest and with physical therapy, morphine use, nausea, pruritus, sedation, and patient satisfaction were assessed. Patients receiving peripheral nerve blocks reported better analgesia at rest for at least 8 h after transfer to the hospital ward (P < 0.05). Morphine use was decreased by approximately 50\% in the peripheral nerve block groups until the second postoperative day (P < 0.02). Side effect profiles and patient satisfaction were similar between groups. We conclude that femoral nerve blocks improve analgesia and decrease morphine use after TKR. The addition of a sciatic nerve block to the femoral nerve block did not further improve analgesic efficacy. IMPLICATIONS: Performance of femoral nerve blocks improves analgesia and decreases the need for morphine after total knee replacement surgery. The addition of a sciatic nerve block to the femoral nerve block does not provide additional benefits.
This article was published in Anesth Analg
and referenced in Journal of Anesthesia & Clinical Research