Background: The impact of anesthetic technique on perioperative outcomes remains controversial. We studied a large national sample of primary joint arthroplasty recipients and hypothesized that neuraxial anesthesia favorably influences perioperative outcomes.
Methods: Data from approximately 400 hospitals between 2006 and 2010 were accessed. Patients who underwent primary hip or knee arthroplasty were identified and subgrouped by anesthesia technique: general, neuraxial, and combined neuraxial-general. Demographics, postoperative complications, 30-day mortality, length of stay, and patient cost were analyzed and compared. Multivariable analyses were conducted to identify the independent impact of choice of anesthetic on outcomes.
Results: Of 528,495 entries of patients undergoing primary hip or knee arthroplasty, information on anesthesia type was available for 382,236 (71.4%) records. Eleven percent were performed under neuraxial, 14.2% under combined neuraxial-general, and 74.8% under general anesthesia. Average age and comorbidity burden differed modestly between groups. When neuraxial anesthesia was used, 30-day mortality was significantly lower (0.10, 0.10, and 0.18%; P < 0.001), as was the incidence of prolonged (>75th percentile) length of stay, increased cost, and in-hospital complications. In the multivariable regression, neuraxial anesthesia was associated with the most favorable complication risk profile. Thirty-day mortality remained significantly higher in the general compared with the neuraxial or neuraxial-general group for total knee arthroplasty (adjusted odds ratio [OR] of 1.83, 95% CI 1.08-3.1, P = 0.02; OR of 1.70, 95% CI 1.06-2.74, P = 0.02, respectively).
Conclusions: The utilization of neuraxial versus general anesthesia for primary joint arthroplasty is associated with superior perioperative outcomes. More research is needed to study potential mechanisms for these findings.