Inpatient falls after total knee arthroplasty: the role of anesthesia type and peripheral nerve blocks

Anesthesiology. 2014 Mar;120(3):551-63. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000000120.


Background: Much controversy remains on the role of anesthesia technique and peripheral nerve blocks (PNBs) in inpatient falls (IFs) after orthopedic procedures. The aim of the study is to characterize cases of IFs, identify risk factors, and study the role of PNB and anesthesia technique in IF risk in total knee arthroplasty patients.

Methods: The authors selected total knee arthroplasty patients from the national Premier Perspective database (Premier Inc., Charlotte, NC; 2006-2010; n = 191,570, >400 acute care hospitals). The primary outcome was IF. Patient- and healthcare system-related characteristics, anesthesia technique, and presence of PNB were determined for IF and non-IF patients. Independent risk factors for IFs were determined by using conventional and multilevel logistic regression.

Results: Overall, IF incidence was 1.6% (n = 3,042). Distribution of anesthesia technique was 10.9% neuraxial, 12.9% combined neuraxial/general, and 76.2% general anesthesia. PNB was used in 12.1%. Patients suffering IFs were older (average age, 68.9 vs. 66.3 yr), had higher comorbidity burden (average Deyo index, 0.77 vs. 0.66), and had more major complications, including 30-day mortality (0.8 vs. 0.1%; all P < 0.001). Use of neuraxial anesthesia (IF incidence, 1.3%; n = 280) had lower adjusted odds of IF compared with adjusted odds of IF with the use of general anesthesia alone (IF incidence, 1.6%; n = 2,393): odds ratio, 0.70 (95% CI, 0.56-0.87). PNB was not significantly associated with IF (odds ratio, 0.85 [CI, 0.71-1.03]).

Conclusions: This study identifies several risk factors for IF in total knee arthroplasty patients. Contrary to common concerns, no association was found between PNB and IF. Further studies should determine the role of anesthesia practices in the context of fall-prevention programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Anesthesia, General / methods
  • Anesthesia, General / statistics & numerical data*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Nerve Block / methods
  • Nerve Block / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Safety / statistics & numerical data
  • Peripheral Nerves / drug effects*
  • Risk Factors