Evaluation of intra-articular and subcutaneous administration of meloxicam for postoperative analgesia following stifle surgery in dogs

P. Moak (1), G. Hosgood (2), E. Rowe (1), K. A. Lemke (1)

The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy of meloxicam when given by intra-articular (IA) and subcutaneous (SC) routes of administration for postoperative analgesia versus a placebo for dogs undergoing stifle surgery. Twenty-five dogs with cranial cruciate ligament rupture (CCLR) were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups, each with nine dogs, before surgical repair of twenty-seven stifles using a modified lateral retinacular imbrication technique. Group 1 dogs received IA administration of meloxicam and SC placebo. Group 2 dogs received IA placebo and SC meloxicam. Group 3 dogs received IA and SC administration of placebo. Dogs were assessed for pain by blinded observers using a visual analog scale (VAS), a numerical pain scoring system (NPS), and measurement of pain threshold using an algometer applied to the affected stifle. Assessments were made prior to pre-medication, postoperatively at the time of extubation, and at 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, and 24 hours following extubation. The results did not identify any significant effect of treatment between groups on the VAS data, algometer readings, or NPS data. Significantly increased VAS scores and decreased algometer readings were noted from preoperative to postoperative times. No differences were noted in early postoperative pain between dogs treated with IA meloxicam, SC meloxicam, or placebo. While intra-articular non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drug administration has shown efficacy in joint surgery for people, we did not find any evidence to support its use in dogs undergoing repair of CCLR.