Members of the Michigan Society of Anesthesiologists (MSA) are among those joining forces to launch the largest clinical trial yet to determine whether administering cannabidiol (CBD) before and after surgery can reduce the need for opioids following total knee replacement.

While the primary focus of this trial is on patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty, known as knee replacement surgery, researchers anticipate the findings could have far-reaching implications for the use of CBD over the course of the perioperative period — the time before, during and after surgery — across a diverse range of elective surgeries, where opioids continue to be the standard pain-relief treatment. CBD is the non-intoxicating compound derived from cannabis.

“This study could be a significant step forward in exploring additional pain management strategies and assessing the potential for CBD to reduce opioid consumption following surgery,” said Lara Zador, M.D., a co-investigator on the study who’s an anesthesiologist with advanced fellowship training in pain management and the director of the Multidisciplinary Pain Clinic at Henry Ford Health.

Despite advances in perioperative pain management, acute and chronic pain remains a significant issue following surgery. Opioids are commonly prescribed to alleviate post-surgery pain. However, their use can lead to dependence and addiction. Therefore, this study aims to investigate how this alternative treatment could help reduce the reliance on opioids after surgery.

“Through this study, we want to better understand if CBD use by patients changes opioid use after surgery,” said Chad Brummett, M.D., senior associate chair for research in the Department of Anesthesiology and co-director for the Opioid Research Institute at the University of Michigan. “It will help us develop a nuanced understanding of how CBD impacts pain severity, anxiety, inflammation and sleep.”

The clinical trial begins this month and is expected to last around four years. This collaborative effort between anesthesiologists and researchers at Henry Ford Health and Michigan Medicine — two premier academic health institutions in Michigan — reflects a commitment to improving patient care and exploring innovative solutions to address the challenges associated with post-surgery pain. The outcomes of this trial hold the potential to impact the way pain is managed following surgery, offering hope for a safer and more effective alternative to opioids.

Media Mentions


WCBS 880

American Hospital Association

Michigan Society of Anesthesiologists

U-M Medical School