The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 34, Issue 7, S159 - S163

Transdermal Scopolamine as an Adjunct to Multimodal Pain Management in Patients Undergoing Total Joint Arthroplasty

Ari R. Berg, Akshay Lakra, Emma L. Jennings, H. John Cooper, Roshan P. Shah, Jeffrey A. Geller
Hip Knee


Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) after surgery degrades patient experience, tolerance of pain medication, rehabilitation progress, and functional outcomes. Given the importance of early rehabilitation following total joint arthroplasty (TJA), we asked whether transdermal scopolamine is effective in reducing rates of PONV and improving functional outcomes following TJA.


We retrospectively reviewed the charts of 1580 consecutive patients who underwent TJA between 2014 and 2017 and compared patients before the addition of the scopolamine patch (control group) to those after the addition (study group). Patients were given the scopolamine patch in the holding area unless contraindicated. A total of 495 patients were excluded. Charts were reviewed for PONV, demographic information, surgical time, length of stay, distance walked with physical therapy, and Visual Analog Scale pain scores. Student t-test was used to compare continuous data and chi-square was used for categorical variables.


The incidence of PONV was significantly lower in the study group compared to the control group (14.4% vs 29.3%, P < .0001). Patients who were given scopolamine had lower Visual Analog Scale pain scores on postoperative days (POD) 0 through 2 ( P < .01), were able to walk further distances on POD 0 through 3 ( P < .001), and received fewer morphine equivalents on POD 1 and 2 ( P < .001). Greater morphine equivalents were received by the study group on POD 0.


Use of a scopolamine patch was associated with significant reduction in PONV and improvement in functional outcomes following TJA. These data support the use of transdermal scopolamine as part of a multimodal, perioperative pain protocol in patients undergoing TJA.

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