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For TKA Pain Relief, Motor-Sparing Blocks Last Longer than Periarticular Infiltration

Adductor Canal Block for OBuzz
Analgesia after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is a multimodal affair these days. Main goals include maintaining adequate patient comfort while limiting opiate use and permitting early mobilization.

In the August 2, 2017 issue of JBJS, Sogbein et al. report on a blinded randomized study comparing the performance of two types of analgesia often used in multimodal TKA pain-management protocols: preoperative motor-sparing knee blocks and intraoperative periarticular infiltrations.

Prior to surgery, the 35 patients in the motor-sparing block group received a midthigh adductor canal block under ultrasound guidance, combined with posterior pericapsular and lateral femoral cutaneous injections. The 35 patients in the periarticular infiltration group received study-labeled local anesthetics intraoperatively, just prior to component implantation.

Defining the “end of analgesia” as the point at which patient-reported pain at rest or activity rated ≥6 on the numerical rating scale and rescue analgesia was administered, the authors found that the duration of analgesia was significantly longer for the motor-sparing-block group compared with the periarticular-infiltration group. The infiltration group had significantly higher scores for pain at rest for the first 2 postoperative hours and for pain with knee movement at 2 and 4 hours. There were no between-group differences in time to mobilization, length of hospital stay, opiate consumption, or functional recovery.

August 2017 Article Exchange with JOSPT

JOSPT_Article_Exchange_LogoIn 2015, JBJS launched an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

During the month of August 2017, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT article titled “Clinical Prediction Models for Patients With Nontraumatic Knee Pain in Primary Care: A Systematic Review and Internal Validation Study.”

This systematic review yielded two new prognostic models for function and recovery in patients with nontraumatic knee pain. A longer duration of complaints predicted poorer function.

Let Unstable Chondral Lesions Be During Partial Meniscectomy

Chondral Debridement Graph for OBuzzMore than 900,000 patients every year undergo knee arthroscopy in the US. Many of those procedures involve a partial meniscectomy to address symptomatic meniscal tears. Surgeons “scoping” knees under these circumstances often encounter a chondral lesion—and most proceed to debride it.

However, in the July 5, 2017 issue of JBJS, Bisson et al. report on a randomized controlled trial that suggests there is no benefit to arthroscopic debridement of most unstable chondral lesions when they are encountered during partial meniscectomy. With about 100 patients ≥30 years old in each group, the authors found no significant differences in function and pain outcomes between the debridement and observation groups at the 1-year follow-up. In fact, relative to the debridement group, the observation group had more improvement in WOMAC and KOOS pain scores at 6 weeks, better SF-36 physical function scores at 3 months, and increased quadriceps circumference at 6 months.

The authors conclude that these findings “challenge the current standards” of typically debriding chondral lesions in the setting of arthroscopic partial meniscectomy. They also surmise that, in conjunction with declining Medicare reimbursements for meniscectomies with chondral debridement, these results “may lead to a reduction in the rate of arthroscopic debridement.”

Remove or Retain the PCL in TKA?

Posterior Stabilized Knee for OBuzz.jpegIn the world of total knee arthroplasty (TKA), the arguments about retaining the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) versus stabilizing the knee with posterior-stabilized components have raged for more than 30 years. The number of cohort studies and controlled trials attempting to clarify the issue have been too high to count. In the July 5, 2017 issue of The Journal, Vertullo et al. use the power of the Australian national joint registry to add additional important clinical information to the debate.

More than 62,000 TKA cases formed the substrate of this analysis. In a study-design twist, the revision-related outcomes were analyzed on the basis of the preference surgeons had for the two different design options, not on the basis of which prostheses were actually used. Consequently, there was a likelihood that the cohort of patients treated by surgeons who had a preference for posterior-stabilized designs would include some PCL-retained cases, and vice-versa. The authors claim that this “instrumental variable analysis” has “the capacity to remove the confounding by indication or disease severity against posterior-stabilized total knee replacements.” However, as with any registry study, there were still many confounding variables that could have influenced the revision rate, not the least of which is surgeon skill in component alignment and ligament tensioning.

Nevertheless, with selection bias minimized, Vertullo et al. found a real difference in revision rates favoring retention of the PCL. That finding does make biomechanical sense to this non-arthroplasty surgeon, who would expect less stress on the tibial component-bone interface at the extremes of knee motion with the PCL-retaining procedure.

Biomechanics notwithstanding, I think this very large registry-based arthroplasty study will influence the debate going forward, but I doubt it will end the debate or that it will change the TKA practices of many surgeons worldwide. For a more definitive and potentially practice-changing resolution to this clinical conundrum, we’ll need a very large (2,000 to 3,000 patients in each arm) international trial where surgeons and patients accept randomization between these two choices.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

Chondroitin Sulfate Similar to Celecoxib in Easing Pain of Knee OA

Rich Yoon Headshot.jpgOrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Richard Yoon, MD, in response to a recent study in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

European investigators recently reported on a trial comparing the efficacy of pharmaceutical-grade chondroitin sulfate (CS) (800 mg/day) with the NSAID celecoxib (CX) (200 mg/day) and placebo in more than 600 patients with painful knee osteoarthritis (OA).

In this well-designed, well-executed, double-blinded, 3-armed trial, investigators tracked patient pain scores at baseline and at 1-month, 3-month and 6-month intervals. This trial was characterized by strict adherence to blinded protocols, high levels of patient adherence, and meticulous review of patient diaries and adverse-event reports.

Patients in both the CS and CX groups experienced significantly greater pain relief when compared to those in the placebo group at every follow-up time point. In addition to tracking pain via the visual analogue scale (VAS), the investigators included the Lequesene index (LI)—which integrates both pain and function—along with the Minimal-Clinically Important Improvement (MCII) scale. While CX and CS were not superior/inferior to one another, both active treatments provided significant pain improvements relative to placebo according to all three measurements at all time points.

These findings showing the efficacy of pharmaceutical-grade CS are important for orthopaedic surgeons, rheumatologists, and general practitioners. Nonoperative management of knee OA remains an important modality that requires a multimodal approach, typically including NSAIDs and/or acetaminophen. These results suggest that there’s another safe medication that may prove especially helpful for OA patients who cannot tolerate NSAIDs or acetaminophen due to kidney, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and/or liver issues.

Richard Yoon, MD is a fellow in orthopaedic traumatology and complex adult reconstruction at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Can Only 4 Questions Yield Meaningful Patient Outcome Measures?

Guy and Computer for PROMIS O'Buzz.jpgIn today’s data-driven, evidence-based world of orthopaedics, capturing accurate information about a patient’s physical function can require patients to answer dozens of separate questions. In the June 7, 2017 edition of JBJS, Hancock et al. investigate whether the computer-based tool called PROMIS (Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System) PF CAT is more efficient than and just as reliable as the more burdensome function-evaluation instruments.

In short, the answer is yes. Among a group of otherwise healthy patients scheduled to undergo meniscal surgery, the PROMIS PF CAT scores were generally highly correlated with traditional patient-reported physical-function measures, such as the SF-36 Physical Function instrument and the KOOS Sport and Quality-of-Life scores.

In contrast to the more traditional fixed-length questionnaires, the PROMIS PF CAT presents an initial item to the patient, and uses the response to that to select the most informative next item. That process continues only until a predefined level of precision is reached, at which point the test ends. The vast majority (89%) of the patients in this study completed the PROMIS PF CAT after answering only four items.

Considering its strong correlation with other widely accepted measurement tools and its efficiency, the authors conclude that PROMIS PF CAT “may be a good alternative for evaluating physical function in meniscal injury populations,” and that it could help “reduce burnout and maintain high response rates” in a time-constrained health care environment.

June 2017 Article Exchange with JOSPT

JOSPT_Article_Exchange_LogoIn 2015, JBJS launched an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

During the month of June 2017, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT article titled “The Association of Recreational and Competitive Running With Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.”

Based on 17 studies included in the meta-analysis, the authors found that recreational runners had a lower occurrence of osteoarthritis compared with competitive runners and sedentary controls.

Sports Medicine Update

What's_New_Sports_Med_Image_for_O'Buzz.pngEvery month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.

The May 17, 2017 JBJS Specialty Update on Sports Medicine reflects evidence in the field of sports medicine published from September 2015 to August 2016. Although this review is not exhaustive of all research that might be pertinent to sports medicine, it highlights many key articles that contribute to the existing evidence base in the field.

Topics covered include:

  • Prevention of Musculoskeletal Injuries
  • Autograft vs Allograft ACL Reconstruction
  • Anterior Shoulder Stabilization
  • Hip Arthroscopy

The Opioid Epidemic: Consequences Beyond Addiction

knee-spotlight-image.pngThe orthopaedic community worldwide—and especially those of us in the US, the nation most notorious for over-prescribing—has become very cognizant of the epidemic of opioid abuse. Ironically, the current problem was fueled partly by the “fifth vital sign” movement of 10 to 20 years ago, when physicians were encouraged (brow-beaten, in my opinion) to increase the use of opioid medications to “prevent” high pain scores.

Researchers internationally are now pursuing clarification on the appropriate use of these medications. The societal consequences of opioid addiction, which all too often starts with a musculoskeletal injury and/or orthopaedic procedure, have been well documented in the social-science and lay literature. In the May 17, 2017 issue of The Journal, Smith et al. detail an additional consequence to the chronic use of opioid drugs—the negative impact of preoperative opioids on pain outcomes following knee replacement surgery.

Approximately one-quarter of the 156 total knee arthroplasty (TKA) patients analyzed had had at least one preoperative opioid prescription.  Patients who used opioids prior to TKA obtained less pain relief from the operation than those who had not used pre-TKA opioids. The authors also found that pain catastrophizing was the only factor measured that was independently associated with pre-TKA opioid use.

To be sure, we need to disseminate this information to the primary care community so they will be more judicious about prescribing these medications for knee arthritis. Additionally, knee surgeons should consider working with primary care providers to wean their TKA-eligible patients off these medications, with the understanding that chronic use preoperatively compromises postsurgical pain relief and functional outcomes.

We have previously published in The Journal the fact that the use of opioids is largely a cultural expectation that varies by country; physicians outside the US often achieve excellent postoperative pain management success without the use of these medications. My bottom line: We must continue to press forward to limit the use of opioid medications in both pre- and postoperative settings.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

High Rates of Return to Play and Patient Satisfaction after ACL Reconstruction

ACL Recon for O'Buzz.jpegThe estimated annual cost of surgical treatment for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures in the US is $2 billion. Are ACL surgery patients—and the health care system—getting significant value for all that money spent?

In the May 3, 2017 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Nwachukwu et al. set out to answer that question by retrospectively analyzing rates of return to play and satisfaction among 231 ACL-surgery patients (mean age of 27 years) who were followed for a mean of 3.7 years. The authors found that:

  • 87% had returned to play at a mean of 10 months after surgery.
  • 89% of the 171 athletes eligible to return to their prior level of competition did so.
  • 85% said they were “very satisfied” with the outcome, and 98% stated they would have the surgery again.

Not surprisingly, patients were more likely to say they were “very satisfied” if they had returned to play.

The authors also found that the use of patellar tendon autograft increased the chance of returning to play, while preoperative participation in soccer or lacrosse decreased the likelihood of returning to play. Those who participated in basketball, football, skiing, and tennis had higher return-to-play rates than those who participated in the two aforementioned sports.

In addition, Nwachukwu et al. found that one-third of those who did not return to sports reported fear of reinjury as the reason. The authors encourage surgeons to understand that “psychological readiness, fear of reinjury, and mental resiliency influence the probability of an athlete returning to play.”

In her commentary, Elizabeth Matzkin, MD cautions readers to interpret the Level IV study’s findings cautiously. She calls for “better prospective, homogeneous studies” to more accurately assess which surgical graft types and specific sports are more or less likely to result in patients returning to play. Nevertheless, the study, she says, “forces us to look at the big picture: What can we do to make ACL [reconstruction] better for our patients?”