Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy April 2019, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 1204–1212

Reduced opiate use after total knee arthroplasty using computer-assisted cryotherapy

Thijs, E., Schotanus, M.G.M., Bemelmans, Y.F.L. et al.


Despite multimodal pain management and advances in anesthetic techniques, total knee arthroplasty (TKA) remains painful during the early postoperative phase. This trial investigated whether computer-assisted cryotherapy (CAC) is effective in reduction of pain and consumption of opioids in patients operated for TKA following an outpatient surgery pathway.



Sixty patients scheduled for primary TKA were included in this prospective, double-blind, randomized controlled trial receiving CAC at 10–12 °C (Cold-group, n = 30) or at 21 °C (Warm-group, n = 30) during the first 7 days after TKA according to a fixed schedule. All patients received the same pre-, peri- and postoperative care with a multimodal pain protocol. Pain was assessed before and after every session of cryotherapy using the numerical rating scale for pain (NRS-pain). The consumption of opioids was strictly noted during the first 4 postoperative days. Secondary outcomes were knee swelling, visual hematoma and patient reported outcome measures (PROMs). These parameters were measured pre-, 1, 2 and 6 weeks postoperatively.



In both study groups, a reduction in NRS-pain after every CAC session were seen during the postoperative period of 7 days. A mean reduction of 0.9 and 0.7 on the NRS-pain was seen for respectively the Cold- (P = 0.008) and Warm-group (n.s.). A significant (P = 0.001) lower number of opioids were used by the Cold-group during the acute postoperative phase of 4 days, 47 and 83 tablets for respectively the Cold and Warm-group. No difference could be observed for secondary outcomes and adverse effects between both study groups.



Postoperative CAC can be in added value in patients following an outpatient surgery pathway for TKA, resulting in reduced experienced pain and consumption of opioids during the first postoperative days.

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