The Effect of Adductor Canal Block on Knee Extensor Muscle Strength 6 Weeks After Total Knee Arthroplasty: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

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Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) reduces knee extensor muscle strength (KES) in the operated limb for several months after the surgery. Immediately after TKA, compared to either inguinal femoral nerve block or placebo, adductor canal block (ACB) better preserves KES. Whether this short-term increase in KES is maintained several weeks after surgery remains unknown. We hypothesized that 48 hours of continuous ACB immediately after TKA would improve KES 6 weeks after TKA, compared to placebo.


Patients scheduled for primary unilateral TKA were randomized to receive either a continuous ACB (group ACB) or a sham block (group SHAM) for 48 hours after surgery. Primary outcome was the difference in maximal KES 6 weeks postoperatively, measured with a dynamometer during maximum voluntary isometric contraction. Secondary outcomes included postoperative day 1 (POD1) and day 2 (POD2) KES, pain scores at rest and peak effort, and opioid consumption; variation at 6 weeks of Knee Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, patient satisfaction, and length of hospital stay.


Sixty-three subjects were randomized and 58 completed the study. Patients in group ACB had less pain at rest during POD1 and during peak effort on POD1 and POD2, consumed less opioids on POD1 and POD2, and had higher median KES on POD1. There was no significant difference between groups for median KES on POD2, variation of Knee Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, patient satisfaction, and length of stay. There was no difference between groups in median KES 6 weeks after surgery (52 Nm [31–89 Nm] for group ACB vs 47 Nm [30–78 Nm] for group SHAM, P= .147).


Continuous ACB provides better analgesia and KES for 24–48 hours after surgery, but does not affect KES 6 weeks after TKA. Further research could evaluate whether standardized and optimized rehabilitation over the long term would allow early KES improvements with ACB to be maintained over a period of weeks or months.

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