Senior Scholars Program

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Anesthesiology

Faculty Mentor

Arnel J. Almeda, Russell M. Flatto, Anthony L. Schwagerl

Publication Date


Document Type



Anesthesiology | Chemical Actions and Uses | Orthopedics | Surgery


Background: Throughout the world, baby boomers reaching their sixth, seventh, and eighth decade of life are requiring a significant number of joint replacements—hips and knees. Due to the increasing number of joint replacements, it is important to find a multi-modal approach (MMA) to control pain, reduce the amount of opioid consumption, and improve patient satisfaction.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the intraoperative, postoperative, and total opioid consumption of patients undergoing total hip and knee replacements in an effort to develop a multi-modal approach to decrease opioid consumption, minimize adverse effects secondary to narcotic administration, and to achieve better pain control. This MMA was achieved by administering oxycodone, gabapentin, celecoxib, and acetaminophen starting before surgical incision.

Methods: The study sample consisted of 192 patients undergoing total hip and knee replacements over a 10-month period between June 2012 and March 2013 at UMASS Memorial performed by five orthopedic surgeons. The main objective was to record intraoperative, postoperative, total opioid consumption, and patient satisfaction amongst these patients. Furthermore, the patients were subdivided based on the type of procedure (hip vs knee), type of anesthetic (general vs spinal), and the presence or absence of an indwelling catheter to deliver anesthetic (catheter vs no catheter).

Results: The data showed a large variability among the surgeons in regards to the amount of opioid used intraoperatively, postoperatively and total opioid consumption. In terms of type of anesthetic, the patients undergoing spinal anesthesia used statistically significantly less opioids intraoperatively but not postoperatively, compared to general anesthesia. As for catheter use with general and spinal anesthesia, surprisingly, there was no significant difference in opioid consumption compared to the non-catheter counterpart. Furthermore, there seems to be no correlation between body mass index (BMI) and intraoperative or postoperative opioid use. Patient satisfaction was another variable that showed no correlation with opioid use intraoperatively or postoperatively. In terms of age, the data suggests that older patients use less opioids postoperatively in both hip and knee replacements.

Conclusions: Our results quantitatively show spinal anesthesia to be far superior than general anesthesia in both joint replacements. Spinal anesthesia provides better pain control intraoperatively which allows one to use less opioids, thereby minimizing the adverse side effects of narcotic administration which include respiratory depression, urinary retention, nausea and post-operative ileus to name just a few. One surgeon’s patients required significantly less opioids intraoperatively compared to the rest of the surgeons. Further studies might warrant examining this surgeon’s technique or the demographics of his patient population to determine how better pain control and less opioid consumption could be achieved across all joints with all participating surgeons.


Arthroplasty, Replacement, Analgesics, Opioid, Orthopedic Procedures, Pain Management, Pain, Postoperative, Intraoperative Period, Postoperative Period, Patient Satisfaction

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Senior Scholars Program


Medical student Costas Gioules participated in this study as part of the Senior Scholars research program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.



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