Anesthesia: Essays and Researches  Login  | Users Online: 768 Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
Home | About us | Editorial board | Ahead of print | Search | Current Issue | Archives | Submit article | Instructions | Copyright form | Subscribe | Advertise | Contacts

Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 254-258  

Efficacy of adding dexmedetomidine to intra-articular levobupivacaine on postoperative pain after knee arthroscopy

Department of Anesthesiology and Intesive Care, Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt

Date of Web Publication28-May-2019

Correspondence Address:
Mohamed Maher El Baz
1 Taksim Khattab St., Ahmed Maher St., Mansoura
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aer.AER_23_19

Rights and Permissions

Background and Aims: Intrarticular ingection of local anesthetics in the knee joint decreases postoperative pain after knee arthrosopy. Dexmedetomidine an α2agonist has sedative and analgesic effects and decreases postoperative pain after knee arthroscopy when injected intraarticulary. Levobubivacaine is a long acting local anesthetic with less toxicity than bubivacaine. We compared the analgesic effects of dexmedetomidine when added to intraarticular levobupivacaine in patients posted for knee arthroscopy. Methods: Data were first tested for normality by Kolmogorov–Smirnov test. Study was done on 90 patients. Patients were divided into 3 groups 30 patients each. Group (C) received 50 ml saline only as a control group. Group (L) received 50 ml 0.25% levobupivacaine. Group (L/D) received 50 ml 0.25% levobupivacaine and dexmedetomidine 1μ (VAS) score was used to assess postoperative pain. Time of first pethidine demand and total dose of pethidine in the first 24 h were recorded, also postoperative complications such as pruritis, nausea and vomiting. SPSS version 16 was used for data analysis. P < 0.05 was considered significant. Results: Postoperative VAS sore at different intervals was less in Group LD than Group L than Group C, time to the first pethedine injection in (min) was longer (39 ± 6, 31 ± 7, 21 ± 6), and total pethedine dose given (mg) was lower (36 ± 9.8, 64 ± 19, 102 ± 24) in Group LD than Group L than Group C respectively. Conclusion: Adding dexmedetomidine to intraarticular levobupivacaine in patients undergoing knee arthroscopy provides more analgesic effect with lower pain scores than levobupivacaine alone with less use of postoperative analgesics during the first 24 h.

Keywords: Dexmedetomidine, evobupivacaine, intraarticular

How to cite this article:
El Baz MM, Farahat TE. Efficacy of adding dexmedetomidine to intra-articular levobupivacaine on postoperative pain after knee arthroscopy. Anesth Essays Res 2019;13:254-8

How to cite this URL:
El Baz MM, Farahat TE. Efficacy of adding dexmedetomidine to intra-articular levobupivacaine on postoperative pain after knee arthroscopy. Anesth Essays Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Jan 20];13:254-8. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Postoperative pain delays discharge after operations and increase postoperative cost. Several methods were tried before to decrease this pain after arthroscopic knee surgery as opioids, nonopioid drugs, central, peripheral nerve blocks, and intra-articular injection of several drugs as local anesthetics and analgesics.[1]

Local anesthetics have short duration of action, so other drugs usually added to increase its duration of action and to decrease the toxicity of large dose of one drug when used alone.[2]

Levobupivacaine is s enantiomer of bupivacaine with less side effects and more duration of action.[3] It reversibly blocks action potential in sensory, motor, and sympathetic nervous fibers by blocking sodium transmission in voltage-sensitive ion channels in nerve cells. It has less depressant action on atrioventricular conduction time[4] and QRS time,[5] and less depressive effect on contractility of the isolated animal heart.[6]

The highly selective α2 adrenoreceptor agonist drug dexmedetomidine causes hypnotic, sedation, anxiolysis, antisympathetic, and analgesic effects.[7] Compared to clonidine, an α2 agonist which was used widely before, dexmedetomidine is more α2 receptors agonist (α21 ratio of 1620:1 vs. 220:1).[8] α1 adrenoceptors counteract α2 sedative effects, so dexmedetomidine is effective than clonidine.[9] Side effects of dexmedetomidine are due to α2 receptors activation include hypertension, bradycardia, and hypotension.[10] Dexmedetomidine delays stress response of surgery.[11] Intra-articular dexmedetomidine injection has been tried to decrease postoperative pain after knee arthroscopy, with more time of first analgesics needed and less use of postoperative analgesics.[12]

We hypothesized that adding dexmedetomidine when added to intra-articular levobupivacaine in patients posted for knee arthroscopy will decrease postoperative pain compared to intra-articular levobupivacaine alone as the primary outcome, and will decrease the use of postoperative analgesics and increase patients' satisfaction as secondary outcome.

   Methods Top

After approval of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of anesthesia and surgical intensive care department (IRB number R/16.03.91), and consents were obtained from all patients, this prospective, randomized, double-blinded study was conducted on 90 patients of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status Classes I and II of both sexes from 20 to 35 years old. Any patients allergic to drugs or in whom postoperative drain inserted were excluded from the study. Intravenous midazolam 2 mg was used for premedication, before shifting patients to operation rooms, routine monitoring used included pulse oximetry, noninvasive blood pressure cuff, 5-lead electrocardiogram and capnography, induction of general anesthesia by intravenous fentanyl 1–1.5 μg/kg and propofol 1.5–2.0 mg/kg atracuronium 0.5 mg/kg for endotracheal intubation, maintenance of anesthesia with 40% O2 in air and isoflurane 1.0%–2.0%, no more analgesics were used, tourniquet was applied after induction and for 10 min after intraarticular drugs injection into the knee joint after finishing the procedure before removing the arthroscope, patients were randomly allocated to one of three groups (n = 30) for intraarticular injection using sealed envelope method as follows: Group (C), received 50 ml saline only and served as the control group. Group (L) received 50 ml 0.25% levobupivacaine. Group (L/D) received 50 ml 0.25% levobupivacaine and dexmedetomidine 1 μg/kg, the study drugs were injected in the knee joint by the surgeon through the arthroscope after completing the procedure (without knowing the drugs used) to be sure that the drugs injected into the knee joint. All patients were informed before operation about the 100 mm visual analog scale (VAS) for pain (0 = no pain to 100 = the maximum pain).[13] Pain scales at rest and during actively flexed knee movement were recorded. VAS scores were recorded before surgery (baseline), and at 30 min, 1 h, 2 h, 4 h, 6 h, 12 h, and 24 h after the intra-articular drugs administration. VAS scores were recorded in the postanaesthesia care unit by physician blinded to the patient. For postoperative analgesia as meperdine was used intravenously to decrease pain if the VAS score was >50. The time from injection of intra-articular drugs to the first need of meperidine was recorded. The total dose of meperidine given during the first 24 h was recorded. Any adverse effects such as bradycardia (heart rate <50/min), hypotension (mean arterial pressure <60 mm hg), nausea, vomiting, sedation, or pruritis were recorded for 24 h.

Thirty patients in each group were calculated enough to get a power of 0.8 to detect a 15% or more reduction in VAS score and 15% increase in the duration of postoperative analgesia in the dexmedetomidine group compared to levobupivacaine group.

SPSS 16 SPSS Inc., Released 2007. SPSS for Windows, Version 16 (Armonk, NY, USA: IBM Corp) was used for data analysis. Mean ± standard was used for continuous variables, number, and percentages (%) were used for categorical variables. One-way ANOVA was the test for comparing continuous variables, Kruskal–Wallis test was used to compare continuous normal variables and ordinal variables, and categorical data were compared using the Chi-square. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

   Results Top

One hundred and four patients began the study, 14 patients were excluded from the study due to the use of surgical drain, and 90 patients were included in the study; the sample size was 90 patients.

Considering age, sex, and weight and the ASA classification, time of surgery, and anesthesia time, there were no significant differences between groups [Table 1].
Table 1: Patients' characteristics data (mean±standard deviation) or number

Click here to view

Postoperative median VAS scores were higher in Group C than Group L at 1, 2, 4, and 6 h postoperatively P < 0.05 and it were significantly lower in Group LD than Group C and Group LD at 1, 2, 4, 6, and 12 h postoperatively P < 0.05 [Table 2].
Table 2: Postoperative pain (data are in mean±standard deviation)

Click here to view

The total dose of pethidine used was lower in Group LD compared to Group C and Group L (P < 0.001 and 0.004), respectively, and first time to need pethidine was significantly longer in Group LD than Group C and Group L (P < 0.001 and 0.011) [Table 3].
Table 3: Analgesic requirements (mean±standard deviation) in studied groups

Click here to view

More patients expressed their analgesia as excellent and good in Group L and LD than Group C [Table 4]. Side effects as nausea, vomiting, and itching had no significant differences between Groups [Table 5].
Table 4: Patient satisfaction in the studied groups (numbers)

Click here to view
Table 5: Postoperative adverse/side effects (%) in the studied groups

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive orthopedic surgical procedure. However, postoperative pain can be underestimated. Al-Metwalli et al. showed that patients treated with intra-articular and intravenous saline reported pain intensity of 50 points on a VAS up to 12 h postoperatively.[12] This pain, if left untreated, delays patient discharge and postoperative rehabilitation. Considering the adverse effects associated with systemic opioid use, intra-articular analgesia administration is simple and may provide a better alternative. Intra-articular application of local anesthetics produces good but for short duration for 4 h.[14],[15] Therefore, various synergistic drugs are added to the local anesthetics.[16]

Due to its long duration of action bupivacaine is commonly used for postoperative analgesia in knee arthroscopy.[16] However, it may cause toxicity, especially at large doses, as cardiac and central nervous systems complications as ventricular arrhythmia, cardiac depression, and seizures.[17] Fortunately, levobupivacaine is a safe drug for local nerve block with prolonged duration of action, with less cardiac and central nervous systems toxicity than bupivacaine.[18],[19] Karaman et al. compared intraarticular levobupivacaine and bupivacaine in knee arthroscopy and found that 20 ml of 0.5% levobupivacaine better than bupivacaine in postoperative analgesia with less side effects.[20]

Intra-articular α2 adrenoreceptor has proved the analgesic effect. Clonidine injected before into the knee joint in many clinical trials in arthroscopic knee surgery, and it enhanced the analgesic effect of bupivacaine.[21] In one study, Joshi et al.[22] reported this analgesic benefit and found that clonidine, when added to bupivacaine and morphine, increased their analgesic effects. Recently, intraarticularly dexmedetomidine, which has high potency and more selective α2 adrenoreceptor actions than clonidine found to be more effective in increasing postoperative analgesia in arthroscopic knee surgery, the time to first analgesic need was high and the need for postoperative analgesics was less,[12] Al-Metwalli et al. 2008 found that the time to first analgesic need was 312.0 ± 120.7 min in the dexmedetomidine group.

The mechanism of action of intraarticular dexmedetomidine is unknown, maybe by direct peripheral action, but the central action due to systemic absorption cannot be rolled out. A recent study showed that perineural clonidine and dexmedetomidine increased sensory and motor blockade of local anesthetics.[23],[24] Supraspinal, spinal, and peripheral mechanisms may play a role in analgesic effects of α2 adrenergic receptor agonists.[25] As clonidine, dexmedetomidine inhibits the release of norepinephrine at peripheral afferent nociceptors in presynaptic receptors.[26] There are evidence that analgesics effect of α2 adrenoceptors is by facilitating inhibitory synaptic transmission in the superficial dorsal horn.[27] Besides, the effects of dexmedetomidine on α2 adrenergic receptors. It directly inhibits tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ channels this may explain the antinociceptive effects of dexmedetomidine when added to local anesthetics.[28] Furthermore, dexmedetomidine inhibits potassium and sodium currents which delay neuronal rectifier of local anesthetic agents.[29]

The limitations of this study are medium size sample, so larger sample size may be used, and that we did not add opioids to study drugs which can prolong the duration of postoperative analgesia. Future studies can use larger sample size.

   Conclusion Top

Adding dexmedetomidine to intraarticular levobupivacaine in patients undergoing knee arthroscopy provides more analgesic effect with lower pain scores than levobupivacaine alone with less use of postoperative analgesics during the first 24 h.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Rawal N. Postoperative pain management in day surgery. Anaesthesia 1998;53 Suppl 2:50-2.  Back to cited text no. 1
Buvanendran A, Kroin JS. Multimodal analgesia for controlling acute postoperative pain. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol 2009;22:588-93.  Back to cited text no. 2
Burlacu CL, Buggy DJ. Update on local anesthetics: Focus on levobupivacaine. Ther Clin Risk Manag 2008;4:381-92.  Back to cited text no. 3
Graf BM, Martin E, Bosnjak ZJ, Stowe DF. Stereospecific effect of bupivacaine isomers on atrioventricular conduction in the isolated perfused guinea pig heart. Anesthesiology 1997;86:410-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
Mazoit JX, Decaux A, Bouaziz H, Edouard A. Comparative ventricular electrophysiologic effect of racemic bupivacaine, levobupivacaine, and ropivacaine on the isolated rabbit heart. Anesthesiology 2000;93:784-92.  Back to cited text no. 5
Simonetti MP, Fernandes L. S bupivacaine and RS bupivacaine: A comparison of effects on the right and left atria of the rat. Reg Anesth 1997;S22:58.  Back to cited text no. 6
Ebert T, Maze M. Dexmedetomidine: Another arrow for the clinician's quiver. Anesthesiology 2004;101:568-70.  Back to cited text no. 7
Virtanen R, Savola JM, Saano V, Nyman L. Characterization of the selectivity, specificity and potency of medetomidine as an alpha 2-adrenoceptor agonist. Eur J Pharmacol 1988;150:9-14.  Back to cited text no. 8
Guo TZ, Tinklenberg J, Oliker R, Maze M. Central alpha 1-adrenoceptor stimulation functionally antagonizes the hypnotic response to dexmedetomidine, an alpha 2-adrenoceptor agonist. Anesthesiology 1991;75:252-6.  Back to cited text no. 9
MacMillan LB, Hein L, Smith MS, Piascik MT, Limbird LE. Central hypotensive effects of the alpha2a-adrenergic receptor subtype. Science 1996;273:801-3.  Back to cited text no. 10
Sulaiman S, Karthekeyan RB, Vakamudi M, Sundar AS, Ravullapalli H, Gandham R, et al. The effects of dexmedetomidine on attenuation of stress response to endotracheal intubation in patients undergoing elective off-pump coronary artery bypass grafting. Ann Card Anaesth 2012;15:39-43.  Back to cited text no. 11
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Al-Metwalli RR, Mowafi HA, Ismail SA, Siddiqui AK, Al-Ghamdi AM, Shafi MA, et al. Effect of intra-articular dexmedetomidine on postoperative analgesia after arthroscopic knee surgery. Br J Anaesth 2008;101:395-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
Chapman CR, Casey KL, Dubner R, Foley KM, Gracely RH, Reading AE, et al. Pain measurement: An overview. Pain 1985;22:1-31.  Back to cited text no. 13
Geutjens G, Hambidge JE. Analgesic effects of intraarticular bupivacaine after day-case arthroscopy. Arthroscopy 1994;10:299-300.  Back to cited text no. 14
Brill S, Plaza M. Non-narcotic adjuvants may improve the duration and quality of analgesia after knee arthroscopy: A brief review. Can J Anaesth 2004;51:975-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
Wei J, Yang HB, Qin JB, Kong FJ, Yang TB. Single-dose intra-articular bupivacaine after knee arthroscopic surgery: A meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled studies. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2014;22:1517-28.  Back to cited text no. 16
Liguori GA, Chimento GF, Borow L, Figgie M. Possible bupivacaine toxicity after intraarticular injection for postarthroscopic analgesia of the knee: Implications of the surgical procedure. Anesth Analg 2002;94:1010-3.  Back to cited text no. 17
Behr A, Freo U, Ori C, Westermann B, Alemanno F. Buprenorphine added to levobupivacaine enhances postoperative analgesia of middle interscalene brachial plexus block. J Anesth 2012;26:746-51.  Back to cited text no. 18
Foster RH, Markham A. Levobupivacaine: A review of its pharmacology and use as a local anaesthetic. Drugs 2000;59:551-79.  Back to cited text no. 19
Karaman Y, Kayali C, Ozturk H, Kaya A, Bor C. A comparison of analgesic effect of intra-articular levobupivacaine with bupivacaine following knee arthroscopy. Saudi Med J 2009;30:629-32.  Back to cited text no. 20
Reuben SS, Connelly NR. Postoperative analgesia for outpatient arthroscopic knee surgery with intraarticular clonidine. Anesth Analg 1999;88:729-33.  Back to cited text no. 21
Joshi W, Reuben SS, Kilaru PR, Sklar J, Maciolek H. Postoperative analgesia for outpatient arthroscopic knee surgery with intraarticular clonidine and/or morphine. Anesth Analg 2000;90:1102-6.  Back to cited text no. 22
Kirksey MA, Haskins SC, Cheng J, Liu SS. Local anesthetic peripheral nerve block adjuvants for prolongation of analgesia: A systematic qualitative review. PLoS One 2015;10:e0137312.  Back to cited text no. 23
Abdallah FW, Brull R. Facilitatory effects of perineural dexmedetomidine on neuraxial and peripheral nerve block: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Anaesth 2013;110:915-25.  Back to cited text no. 24
Gentili M, Juhel A, Bonnet F. Peripheral analgesic effect of intra-articular clonidine. Pain 1996;64:593-6.  Back to cited text no. 25
Ebert TJ, Hall JE, Barney JA, Uhrich TD, Colinco MD. The effects of increasing plasma concentrations of dexmedetomidine in humans. Anesthesiology 2000;93:382-94.  Back to cited text no. 26
Funai Y, Pickering AE, Uta D, Nishikawa K, Mori T, Asada A, et al. Systemic dexmedetomidine augments inhibitory synaptic transmission in the superficial dorsal horn through activation of descending noradrenergic control: Anin vivo patch-clamp analysis of analgesic mechanisms. Pain 2014;155:617-28.  Back to cited text no. 27
Oda A, Iida H, Tanahashi S, Osawa Y, Yamaguchi S, Dohi S, et al. Effects of alpha2-adrenoceptor agonists on tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ channels in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. Eur J Anaesthesiol 2007;24:934-41.  Back to cited text no. 28
Chen BS, Peng H, Wu SN. Dexmedetomidine, an alpha2-adrenergic agonist, inhibits neuronal delayed-rectifier potassium current and sodium current. Br J Anaesth 2009;103:244-54.  Back to cited text no. 29


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded73    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal