A new study led by researchers at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust and Warwick University has recommended an alternative method of pain relief for patients undergoing knee replacement surgery.
Over 250 patients having knee replacements at UHCW took part in the study, reported this month in the Bone and Joint Journal. The study was funded by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research’s programme Research for Patient Benefit.
A traditional option for pain relief during knee replacement surgery is a femoral nerve block, in which a single dose of local anaesthetic is injected around the femoral nerve in the groin, which is typically administered by an anaesthetist.
However, a newer alternative approach uses an injection of anaesthetic agents around the knee joint and is administered by the surgeon without the need for specialist equipment.
The study found that patients who had the knee injections required lower doses of painkillers such as morphine after surgery. Also, unlike a femoral nerve block, there is no need for specialist equipment like ultrasound. This is therefore likely to save surgeons and anaesthetists valuable time and resources and improve patient care.
Peter Wall, Clinical Lecturer at UHCW NHS Trust and lead author of the report said, “Our study has demonstrated the advantages of injections of anaesthetic agents around the knee during knee replacement surgery over other methods. These injections are now shown to be safe and effective. They also involve fewer resources and reduce the need for powerful painkillers such as morphine.”
This is to be welcomed as the potential risks of morphine-type pain relief are well known and should be avoided where possible, Wall said.