The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 34, Issue 8, 1640 - 1645

Intraoperative Ketamine in Total Knee Arthroplasty Does Not Decrease Pain and Narcotic Consumption: A Prospective Randomized Controlled Trial

Tan, Timothy L. et al.


Multiple studies have demonstrated that ketamine, a glutamate receptor blocker, may decrease postoperative pain in abdominal and orthopedic surgeries. However, its role with spinal anesthesia and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) remains unknown. The purpose of this study is to determine the efficacy of subanesthetic dosing of ketamine during TKA on postoperative pain and narcotic consumption.


In this prospective, randomized, double-blinded clinical trial, we enrolled 91 patients undergoing primary TKA with spinal anesthesia in a single institution from 2017 to 2018. Patients were randomized to receive intraoperative ketamine infusion at a rate of 6 mcg/kg/min for 75 minutes or a saline placebo. All patients received spinal anesthesia and otherwise identical surgical approaches, pain management, and rehabilitation protocols. Patient-reported visual analog pain scores were calculated preoperatively, postoperative days (POD) 0-7, and 2 weeks. Narcotic consumption was evaluated on POD 0 and 1.


There was no difference in average pain between ketamine and placebo at all time points except for at PODs 1 (45 vs 56, P = .041) and 4 (39 vs 49, P = .040). For least pain experienced, patients administered with ketamine experienced a reduction in pain only at POD 4 (22 vs 35, P = .011). There was no difference in maximum pain cohorts at all time points of the study or in-hospital morphine equivalents between the 2 cohorts.


As part of multimodal pain management protocol, intraoperative ketamine does not result in a clinically significant improvement in pain and narcotic consumption following TKA.

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