Spinal anesthesia improves recovery for outpatient joint replacements


Patients who received spinal anesthesia instead of general anesthesia for outpatient hip and knee replacements reported less pain and were more often discharged the same day, according to a study published in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.

The study evaluated data on 11,523 patients collected from 21 Kaiser Permanente medical centers in Northern California, Anesthesiology News reported March 18. Spinal anesthesia recipients made up 10,003 of the patients, and the remaining 1,520 received general anesthesia.

Those with spinal anesthesia reported less postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting, the report said. The median post-anesthesia care unit stay was almost an hour shorter for those with general anesthesia, but they were also 10 percent more likely to be kept past the day of surgery.

"The reason for this is most likely multifactorial," principal researcher Edward Yap, MD, said. "General anesthesia patients had higher pain scores, received more opioids and developed more [postoperative nausea and vomiting], which may make discharging patients that much more difficult."

There was no significant difference in 30-day major and minor complication rates between the two groups.

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