Peripheral nerve-blocks and associations with length of stay and readmissions in fast-track total hip and knee arthroplasty

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2023 Feb;67(2):169-176. doi: 10.1111/aas.14169. Epub 2022 Nov 28.


Background: Peripheral nerve blocks (PNB) have recently been recommended in total hip (THA) and knee (TKA) arthroplasty as they may reduce pain, morphine consumption, length of stay (LOS) and complications. However, whether PNBs are associated with early discharge within an enhanced recovery protocol including multimodal analgesia is uncertain.

Methods: An observational multicenter study from January to August 2017 in six Danish Arthroplasty Centers with established fast-track protocols. Prospective recording of preoperative characteristics and information on PNB, LOS and readmissions through the Danish National Patient Registry and medical records. Multiple logistic regression was used to investigate associations between PNB and a LOS >1 day, LOS >4 days, and 30-days readmissions. We also reported on mobilization, pain, opioid and fall-related complications leading to LOS >4 days or readmissions.

Results: A total of 2027 (58.6%) THA and 1432 (41.4%) TKAs with a median LOS of 1 day (IQR 1-2) and 5.3% (CI:4.6-6.1) 30-days readmission rate were identified. PNB was used in 40.7% (CI:38.2-43.3) of TKA and 2.7% (CI:2.0-3.5) of THA, but with considerable interdepartmental variation (0.0-89.0% for TKA). There was no association between PNB and LOS >1 day (OR:1.19 CI:0.82-1.72; p = .354), LOS >4 days (OR:1.4 CI:0.68-2.89; p = .359) or 30-days readmissions (OR:1.02 CI:0.63-1.65; p = .935) in TKA. Logistic regression in THA was not possible due to limited use of PNB. In TKA there were 12 (2.1% CI:1.2-3.6) with and 1 (0.1% CI:0.02-0.7) without a PNB, who had mobilization, pain or opioid-related complications, and 5 (0.9% CI:0.4-2.0) versus 4 (0.5% CI:0.2-1.2) who fell. Correspondingly, 2 (3.7% CI:1.0-12.6) and 11 (0.6% CI:0.3-1.0) of THA patients had these complications, while 0 (0.0% CI:0.0-6.6) and 17 (0.8% CI:0.5-1.3) fell.

Conclusion: Routine use of peripheral nerve blocks was not associated with early discharge or 30-days readmissions in fast-track THA and TKA. Future studies should focus on benefits of PNB in high-risk patients.

Keywords: ERAS; arthroplasty; enhanced recovery; fast-track surgery; hip; joint replacement; knee; nerve block; orthopedics; regional anaesthesia.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip* / adverse effects
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Patient Readmission
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Prospective Studies


  • Analgesics, Opioid

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