Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Clinical Efficacy of Liposomal Bupivacaine

A Systematic Review of Prospective, Randomized Controlled Trials in Orthopaedic Surgery

Abildgaard, Jeffrey T. MD1; Chung, Andrew S. DO2; Tokish, John M. MD2; Hattrup, Steven J. MD2

doi: 10.2106/JBJS.RVW.18.00192
Evidence-Based Systematic Reviews

Background: There has been a surge in interest with regard to the utility of liposomal bupivacaine as part of a perioperative pain management protocol. The current study was proposed to critically assess the efficacy of liposomal bupivacaine as a local anesthetic for pain relief following orthopaedic procedures.

Methods: A systematic review of prospective, randomized trials involving liposomal bupivacaine was performed using searches of the PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane databases. The primary outcomes of interest included postoperative subjective pain scores and narcotic consumption. The length of stay and postoperative mobility were reviewed as secondary outcomes.

Results: Twenty-seven studies met inclusion criteria and were included for review. Twelve of 17 studies concluded that periarticular or local infiltrative liposomal bupivacaine offered no additive benefit compared with other local anesthetic injections. Peripheral nerve blocks without liposomal bupivacaine conferred more optimal pain relief and decreased narcotic consumption in the immediate postoperative period when compared with liposomal bupivacaine, with no differences thereafter. Twelve studies listed a conflict of interest related to the drug manufacturer (Pacira Pharmaceuticals). Eight of these studies (67%) demonstrated clinical superiority of liposomal bupivacaine when compared with the study control. In the 15 studies that did not show a conflict of interest, only 1 study (7%) demonstrated therapeutic superiority with use of periarticular liposomal bupivacaine when compared with a historical cohort that received no local or regional anesthesia.

Conclusions: Current prospective, randomized controlled trials in patients undergoing orthopaedic surgery fail to support the routine use of liposomal bupivacaine compared with other local injectable analgesics, particularly in the setting of knee replacement surgery. We were unable to find consistent support for the potential of superior pain relief and narcotic use reduction with the use of liposomal bupivacaine.

Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

1OrthoArizona, Phoenix, Arizona

2Department of Orthopedics, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona

E-mail address for A.S. Chung:

Investigation performed at Mayo Clinic Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona

Disclosure: There was no source of external funding for this study. On the Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest forms, which are provided with the online version of the article, one or more of the authors checked “yes” to indicate that the author had a relevant financial relationship in the biomedical arena outside the submitted work (

Copyright © 2019 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
You currently do not have access to this article

To access this article: