Research Update: Efficacy of oral carprofen after cranial cruciate surgery


Research Update: Efficacy of oral carprofen after cranial cruciate surgery

Jan 01, 2005

In this prospective clinical study, the effect of perioperative oral carprofen on limb function and pain after cranial cruciate ligament surgery was evaluated in 20 dogs treated at a university teaching hospital. Physiological indices (heart rate, blood pressure), subjective pain scoring, and pressure platform gait analyses were performed before and one to three days after surgery. One group of dogs received perioperative morphine and a joint block with bupivacaine; the other group received the same drugs plus perioperative oral carprofen. The mean body weights of the dogs that did not and did receive carprofen were 70.2 lb (31.9 kg) and 65.3 lb (29.7 kg), respectively. No statistical difference was found between the body weights of the two groups. Sutures from the lateral femoral fabella to the tibial tuberosity stabilized the joints.

Results of the study indicated no strong correlation among physiological data, subjective scoring systems, and gait analyses at a walk or stance, although the authors acknowledged the statistical limitation of using a low number of dogs in the study. Gait analysis was considered more objective and sensitive than other visual evaluations of limb function. Dogs receiving carprofen had greater peak vertical forces and vertical impulses at all time points. The authors thought that the increased limb function was related to decreased perioperative pain.

Horstman CL, Conzemius MG, Evans R, et al. Assessing the efficacy of perioperative oral carprofen after cranial cruciate surgery using noninvasive, objective pressure platform gait analysis. Vet Surg 2004;33:286-292.


Postoperative pain management has become an important focus for veterinarians. In this clinical report, the efficacy of a frequently used drug, carprofen, in alleviating postoperative pain was described. Although the case numbers were low, the use of a common surgical procedure and objective gait analysis provides beneficial information for veterinarians. The authors note that though treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs has reduced morbidity in people after orthopedic surgery, results in the veterinary literature are conflicting. This discrepancy suggests that the drug may not be effective in all dogs.

Joseph Harari, MS, DVM, DACVS
The information in "Research Updates" was provided by Veterinary Medicine Editorial Advisory Board member Joseph Harari, MS, DVM, DACVS, Veterinary Surgical Specalists, 21 E. Mission Ave., Spokane, WA 99202.