Bupivacaine for pain reduction after iliac crest bone graft harvest

Kevin R. O'Neill, Dennis T. Lockney, Jese E. Bible, Colin G. Crosby, Clinton J. Devin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Iliac crest bone graft remains the gold standard in achieving spinal arthrodesis, but chronic pain from graft harvest occurs in up to 39% of patients. Studies have shown that a single administration of local anesthetic reduces short-term pain, but they have not adequately investigated possible longer-term benefits. The goal of this study was to determine whether local administration of bupivacaine after iliac crest bone graft harvesting reduces pain and improves patient-reported outcomes. In this prospective, randomized, controlled, and blinded clinical study, 40 patients were identified who underwent posterior spine fusion with iliac crest bone graft and were randomized to receive either bupivacaine (treatment group, n=20) or saline (control group, n=20) at the iliac crest bone graft site. Pain at the harvest site was determined by a series of 12 visual and numeric pain scale assessments. Short Form-12 mental and physical component scores, EuroQol-5D, and Oswestry Disability Index assessments were made, along with determination of patient satisfaction and self-reported outcome of surgery. Baseline pain and outcome assessments were statistically similar (P>.05). Average pain scores were lower for all 12 assessments in the treatment group at mean follow-up of 5 weeks (significant differences in 6 assessments) and 20 weeks (significant differences in 2 assessments). No significant differences were found in Short Form-12 and EuroQol-5D scores. For patients who underwent lumbar fusion, the treatment group had significantly improved Oswestry Disability Index scores (mean±SD=10.8±7.1 vs 18.7±5.9, P=.012). Significantly more patients in the treatment group reported that surgery met all expectations (90% vs 50%, P=.016). This study is the 1st to show that a single administration of bupivacaine at the iliac crest bone graft harvest site during posterior spine fusion surgery can result in improved outcomes and reduced pain far beyond the anesthetic duration of activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e428-e434
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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