The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 31, Issue 9, 293 - 297

Economic Impact of Ketorolac vs Corticosteroid Intra-Articular Knee Injections for Osteoarthritis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Prospective Study

Bellamy, Jaime L. et al.


Knee osteoarthritis is a disabling disease that costs billions of dollars to treat. Corticosteroid gives varying pain relief and costs $12 per injection, whereas ketorolac costs $2 per injection, per institutional costs. The aim of this study was to compare ketorolac with corticosteroid based on pain relief using patient outcome measures and cost data.


A total of 35 patients were randomized to ketorolac or corticosteroid intra-articular knee injection in a double-blind, prospective study. Follow-up was 24 weeks. Osteoarthritis was evaluated using Kellgren–Lawrence grading. Visual analog scale (VAS) was the primary outcome measure. A query of the institutional database was performed for International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes 715.16 and 719.46, and procedure code 20610 over a 3-year period. Two-way, repeated measures analysis of variance and Spearman rank correlation were used for statistical analysis.


Mean VAS for ketorolac and corticosteroid decreased significantly from baseline at 2 weeks, 6.3-4.6 and 5.2-3.6, respectively and remained decreased for 24 weeks. There was no correlation between VAS and demographics within treatments. There were 220, 602, and 405 injections performed on patients with the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes 715.16 and 719.46 during 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. The cost savings per year using ketorolac instead of corticosteroid would be $2259.40, $6182.54, and $4159.35 for 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively, with a total savings of $12,601.29 over this period.


Pain relief was similar between ketorolac and corticosteroid injections. Ketorolac knee injection is safe and effective with a cost savings percentage difference of 143% when compared with corticosteroid.

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