Background: Spinal anesthesia has been associated with lower postoperative rates of deep-vein thrombosis, a shorter operative time, and less blood loss when compared with general anesthesia. The purpose of the present study was to identify differences in thirty-day perioperative morbidity and mortality between anesthesia choices among patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty.
Methods: The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) database was searched to identify patients who underwent primary total knee arthroplasty between 2005 and 2010. Complications that occurred within thirty days after the procedure in patients who had been managed with either general or spinal anesthesia were identified. Patient characteristics, thirty-day complication rates, and mortality were compared. Multivariate logistic regression identified predictors of thirty-day morbidity, and stratified propensity scores were used to adjust for selection bias.
Results: The database search identified 14,052 cases of primary total knee arthroplasty; 6030 (42.9%) were performed with the patient under spinal anesthesia and 8022 (57.1%) were performed with the patient under general anesthesia. The spinal anesthesia group had a lower unadjusted frequency of superficial wound infections (0.68% versus 0.92%; p = 0.0003), blood transfusions (5.02% versus 6.07%; p = 0.0086), and overall complications (10.72% versus 12.34%; p = 0.0032). The length of surgery (ninety-six versus 100 minutes; p < 0.0001) and the length of hospital stay (3.45 versus 3.77 days; p < 0.0001) were shorter in the spinal anesthesia group. After adjustment for potential confounders, the overall likelihood of complications was significantly higher in association with general anesthesia (odds ratio, 1.129; 95% confidence interval, 1.004 to 1.269). Patients with the highest number of preoperative comorbidities, as defined by propensity score-matched quintiles, demonstrated a significant difference between the groups with regard to the short-term complication rate (11.63% versus 15.28%; p = 0.0152). Age, female sex, black race, elevated creatinine, American Society of Anesthesiologists class, operative time, and anesthetic choice were all independent risk factors of short-term complication after total knee arthroplasty.
Conclusions: Patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty who were managed with general anesthesia had a small but significant increase in the risk of complications as compared with patients who were managed with spinal anesthesia; the difference was greatest for patients with multiple comorbidities. Surgeons who perform knee arthroplasty may consider spinal anesthesia for patients with comorbidities.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
Investigation performed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa
Disclaimer: The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and the hospitals participating in the ACS NSQIP are the source of the data used herein; they have not verified and are not responsible for the statistical validity of the data analysis or the conclusions derived by the authors.
This article was chosen to appear electronically on December 26, 2012 in advance of publication in a regularly scheduled issue.
Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.
- Copyright © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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