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Diagnostic value of intra-articular anaesthetic in primary osteoarthritis of the hip

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We investigated 42 patients who were being considered for primary total hip arthroplasty (THA), but in whom it was uncertain whether the hip was the source of their pain. They were given an injection of local anaesthetic into the joint space.

Of 33 patients who gained pain relief from their injection, 32 subsequently had successful THA. The remaining patient has not had surgery. The intra-articular injection of local anaesthetic is thus at least 96% sensitive. Of the nine patients who had no or only minimal pain relief from injection, one has had an unsuccessful THA, three have been successfully treated for other conditions and five have unresolved pain for which no organic basis has been established.

We believe that the injection of local anaesthetic into the hip is a reliable test, with low morbidity. In difficult cases it will aid in the clarification of the cause of pain which possibly arises from the hip.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr R. W. Crawford at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Windmill Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 7LD, UK.

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