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This is the final published version of the article from the journal JSES International, 2021 Oct 26;6(1):104-110.

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Publication made possible in part by support from the Jefferson Open Access Fund


Background: Postoperative pain management continues to be a challenging aspect of patient care. Lidocaine patches have shown efficacy in reducing pain in other surgical specialties and mixed results in orthopedic trials. We sought to determine the effectiveness of nonprescription lidocaine patches in reducing postoperative pain after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

Methods: Patients undergoing primary arthroscopic rotator cuff repair were recruited from 3 surgeons at a single institution. All patients of each surgeon were randomized to a lidocaine patch or control group, with crossover occurring at the midpoint. Experimental group patients received 26 4% lidocaine gel-patches. They were provided written and visual instructions to begin wearing the lidocaine patches during daytime on postoperative day (POD) 2. They were to be switched every 8 hours and removed overnight. Control group patients received normal standard of care but did not receive a placebo control. Exclusion criteria included workmen's compensation claims, ageyears, history of myocardial infarction, and history of lidocaine or adhesive allergies. The American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons shoulder survey was completed preoperatively and 2-, 6-weeks, 3-, 4.5-, and 6-months postoperatively. A 14-day visual analog scale pain and medication log was completed three times daily following repair. All patients received interscalene nerve block with bupivacaine and general anesthesia.

Results: 80 (40 control, 40 lidocaine) patients were enrolled, with 53 completing follow-up. Groups were demographically similar in age (P = .22), gender (P = .20), and body mass index (P = .77). They were similar in tear pattern (P = .95), concomitant acromioplasty (P = .44), concomitant biceps tenodesis (P = .07), and number of anchors used (P = .25). There was no difference in American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores at any time points (range P = .28-P = .97). Reported 14-day pain logs were not different between study groups at any time points (range P = .07-P = .99). There was no difference in opioid consumption in the first 14 days after surgery (P = .38). The lidocaine group reported less satisfaction with their pain management beginning in the evening of POD 2 (P = .05). This continued until the afternoon of POD 8 (P = .03).

Conclusion: Transdermal 4% lidocaine patches are not effective in reducing pain or opioid consumption after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and were associated with reduced patient satisfaction.

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