Procedure-specific acute pain trajectory after elective total hip arthroplasty: systematic review and data synthesis

Paul Panzenbeck, Arvind von Keudell, Girish P. Joshi, Claire X. Xu, Kamen Vlassakov, Kristin L. Schreiber, James P. Rathmell, Philipp Lirk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: For most procedures, there is insufficient evidence to guide clinicians in the optimal timing of advanced analgesic methods, which should be based on the expected time course of acute postoperative pain severity and aimed at time points where basic analgesia has proven insufficient. Methods: We conducted a systematic search of the literature of analgesic trials for total hip arthroplasty (THA), extracting and pooling pain scores across studies, weighted for study size. Patients were grouped according to basic anaesthetic method used (general, spinal), and adjuvant analgesic interventions such as nerve blocks, local infiltration analgesia, and multimodal analgesia. Special consideration was given to high-risk populations such as chronic pain or opioid-dependent patients. Results: We identified and analysed 71 trials with 5973 patients and constructed pain trajectories from the available pain scores. In most patients undergoing THA under general anaesthesia on a basic analgesic regimen, postoperative acute pain recedes to a mild level (<4/10) by 4 h after surgery. We note substantial variability in pain intensity even in patients subjected to similar analgesic regimens. Chronic pain or opioid-dependent patients were most often actively excluded from studies, and never analysed separately. Conclusions: We have demonstrated that it is feasible to construct procedure-specific pain curves to guide clinicians on the timing of advanced analgesic measures. Acute intense postoperative pain after THA should have resolved by 4–6 h after surgery in most patients. However, there is a substantial gap in knowledge on the management of patients with chronic pain and opioid-dependent patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-132
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • acute pain
  • anaesthesia
  • general
  • hip arthroplasty
  • pain trajectory
  • postoperative pain
  • spinal anaesthesia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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