Trends in the Use of Regional Anesthesia: Neuraxial and Peripheral Nerve Blocks

Reg Anesth Pain Med. Jan-Feb 2016;41(1):43-9. doi: 10.1097/AAP.0000000000000342.


Background: A growing body of evidence indicates that the use of regional anesthesia offers advantages over general anesthesia, not only in terms of reducing complications but also regarding resource utilization and patient satisfaction. Because of the paucity of data on the nationwide adoption of regional anesthesia techniques, we aimed to elucidate trends in the use of neuraxial anesthesia (NA) and peripheral nerve blocks (PNBs) in orthopedic surgeries.

Methods: We extracted data from N = 959,257 (Premier Perspective database; 2006-2013) total hip and knee arthroplasties (THA, TKA) and assessed NA/PNB use by a 2-year period, stratified by demographics and hospital factors. Cochran-Armitage trend tests assessed significance of trends.

Results: Comparing 2006-2007 with 2012-2013, NA utilization decreased slightly from 21.7% to 19.7% for THA patients; this was 24.7% to 21.3% for TKA patients (with the main drop between 2012 and 2013). Conversely, PNB utilization increased from 6.5% to 8.7% for THA patients and 10.3% to 20.4% for TKA patients (all P < 0.001). These general trends did not change when stratified by patient demographics, whereas stratification by hospital factors did show differences: the highest NA utilization was seen in rural, nonteaching, and small hospitals, whereas the highest PNB utilization was seen in large and teaching hospitals.

Conclusions: Our findings provide important insight into the dynamics of the adoption of regional anesthetic techniques. Whereas PNB utilization is significantly increasing, overall, NA and PNBs are performed in the minority of cases. With accumulating evidence in favor of regional anesthesia, promoting the use of NA and a further increase in PNB utilization could have far-reaching medical and economic implications.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anesthesia, Conduction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Anesthesia, Conduction / trends*
  • Anesthesia, Local / trends
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / trends*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / trends*
  • Autonomic Nerve Block / statistics & numerical data*
  • Autonomic Nerve Block / trends*
  • Databases, Factual / trends
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Block / trends