Does regional anaesthesia improve outcome after total hip arthroplasty? A systematic review

Br J Anaesth. 2009 Sep;103(3):335-45. doi: 10.1093/bja/aep208. Epub 2009 Jul 23.


Total hip arthroplasty (THA) is amenable to a variety of regional anaesthesia (RA) techniques that may improve patient outcome. We sought to answer whether RA decreased mortality, cardiovascular morbidity, deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), blood loss, duration of surgery, pain, opioid-related adverse effects, cognitive defects, and length of stay. We also questioned whether RA improved rehabilitation. To do so, we performed a systematic review of the contemporary literature to compare general anaesthesia (GA) and RA and also systemic and regional analgesia for THA. To reflect contemporary surgical and anaesthetic practice, only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from 1990 onward were included. We identified 18 studies involving 1239 patients. Only two of the 18 trials were of Level I quality. There is insufficient evidence from RCTs alone to conclude if anaesthetic technique influenced mortality, cardiovascular morbidity, or the incidence of DVT and PE when using thromboprophylaxis. Blood loss may be reduced in patients receiving RA rather than GA for THA. Our review suggests that there is no difference in duration of surgery in patients who receive GA or RA. Compared with systemic analgesia, regional analgesia can reduce postoperative pain, morphine consumption, and nausea and vomiting. Length of stay is not reduced and rehabilitation does not appear to be facilitated by RA or analgesia for THA.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesia / methods
  • Anesthesia, Conduction* / adverse effects
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / adverse effects*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / rehabilitation
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome