Pregabalin may reduce postoperative pain and opioid use. Higher doses may be more effective, but may cause sedation and confusion. This prospective, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study tested the hypothesis that pregabalin reduces pain at 2 weeks after total knee arthroplasty, but increases drowsiness and confusion.
Patients (30 per group) received capsules containing pregabalin (0, 50, 100, or 150 mg); two capsules before surgery, one capsule twice a day until postoperative day (POD) 14, one on POD15, and one on POD16. Multimodal analgesia included femoral nerve block, epidural analgesia, oxycodone–paracetamol, and meloxicam. The primary outcome was pain with flexion (POD14).
Pregabalin did not reduce pain at rest, with ambulation, or with flexion at 2 weeks (P=0.69, 0.23, and 0.90, respectively). Pregabalin increased POD1 drowsiness (34.5, 37.9, 55.2, and 58.6% in the 0, 50, 100, and 150 mg arms, respectively; P=0.030), but did not increase confusion (0, 3.5, 0, and 3.5%, respectively; P=0.75). Pregabalin had no effect on acute or chronic pain, opioid consumption, or analgesic side-effects. Pregabalin reduced POD14 patient satisfaction [1–10 scale, median (first quartile, third quartile): 9 (8, 10), 8 (7, 10), 8 (5, 9), and 8 (6, 9.3), respectively; P=0.023). Protocol compliance was 63% by POD14 (50.0, 70.0, 76.7, and 56.7% compliance, respectively), with no effect of dose on compliance. Per-protocol analysis of compliant patients showed no effect of pregabalin on pain scores.
Pregabalin had no beneficial effects, but increased sedation and decreased patient satisfaction. This study does not support routine perioperative pregabalin for total knee arthroplasty patients.
Clinical trial registration.