Postoperative analgesia for stifle surgery: A comparison of intra-articular bupivacaine, morphine, or saline

Jill L. Sammarco, Michael G. Conzemius, Sandra Z. Perkowski, M. Joy Weinstein, Thomas P. Gregor, Gail K. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


A prospective study was undertaken to compare the analgesic effect of intra-articular bupivacaine, morphine, or saline in the 24-hour period following cranial cruciate ligament repair in dogs. Thirty-six clinical patients with ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments were randomly assigned to one of three groups. After surgical stabilization, and before skin closure, an intra-articular injection was given; group one (n = 12) received 0.5% bupivacaine HCl at 0.5 mL/kg, group two (n = 12) received morphine at 0.1 mg/kg diluted with saline to a volume of 0.5 mL/kg, and group three (n = 12) received saline at 0.5 mL/kg. Heart rate, respiratory rate, mean arterial blood pressure, cumulative pain score, visual analog pain score, and pain threshold test on both stifles were recorded preoperatively and at 0 to 6 and 24 hours postoperatively. Surgeons and pain scoring investigators were unaware of the intra-articular medication given. Supplemental analgesia, if needed, was provided in the postoperative period according to subjective assessment of patient discomfort. Postoperative pain scores were lowest in the bupivacaine group and highest in the saline group. Pain threshold, measured by applying calibrated loads to the knee, was higher postoperatively in the bupivacaine group than in the saline group. Dogs in the morphine and bupivacaine groups required less supplemental analgesia than dogs in the saline group. The local provision of analgesia reduces the need for systemic drugs with potential side effects. Both intra-articular morphine and intra-articular bupivacaine provided better postoperative analgesia than intra-articular saline, with intra-articular bupivacaine showing the greatest effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


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