The Effect of Ketorolac on Thoracolumbar Posterolateral Fusion: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Study Design:

Systematic review and meta-analysis.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of postoperative ketorolac administration (ie, dosage and duration of use) on pseudarthrosis following thoracolumbar posterolateral spinal fusions.

Summary of Background Data:

Ketorolac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug often administered for pain control after spine surgery. The main concern with ketorolac is the risk of pseudarthrosis following fusion.

Materials and Methods:

A systematic search of multiple medical reference databases was conducted for studies detailing postoperative ketorolac use in lumbar fusion and scoliosis surgery in adult and pediatric patients, respectively. Meta-analysis was performed using the random-effects model for heterogeneity as this study analyzes heterogenous patient populations undergoing variable approaches to fusion and variable numbers of levels with variable means of detection of pseudarthrosis. Outcome measure was pseudarthrosis.


Overall, 6 studies totaling 1558 patients were reviewed. Pseudarthrosis was observed in 119 (7.6%) patients. Pseudarthrosis were observed in adults with ketorolac administered for >2 days [odds ratio (OR), 3.44, 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1.87–6.36; P<0.001], adults with doses of ≥120 mg/d (OR, 2.93, 95% CI, 1.06–8.12; P=0.039), and adults with ketorolac administered for >2 days and at doses ≥120 mg/d (OR, 4.75, 95% CI, 2.34–9.62; P<0.001). Ketorolac use in smokers was associated with pseudarthrosis (OR, 8.71, 95% CI, 2.23–34.0; P=0.002).


Ketorolac, when administered for >2 days and/or at a dose of ≥120 mg/d, is associated with pseudarthrosis in adults after posterolateral lumbar fusion. Ketorolac use in smokers is also associated with pseudarthrosis.

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