Home >  News >  February, 2014

Study: Regional Anesthesia Does Not Increase Chance of Falling

Research suggests spinal and epidural anesthesia, peripheral nerve blocks safe to use in knee replacement surgery.

Published: February 19, 2014

Could a study based on nearly 200,000 patient records topple the long-held belief that regional anesthesia makes patients more prone to falls in the first days after having knee replacement surgery?

The popular thinking is that regional anesthesia for knee replacement may cause motor weakness, making patients more likely to fall when they're walking in the first days after surgery. But the study in the March issue of Anesthesiology finds that the chance of falling after knee replacement does not increase with epidurals and peripheral nerve blocks.

The study goes so far as to suggest that neuraxial anesthesia and blocks provide better pain control and lead to faster rehabilitation and fewer complications than general anesthesia.

"We found that not only do these types of anesthesia not increase the risk of falls, but also spinal or epidural anesthesia may even decrease the risk compared to general anesthesia," says Stavros G. Memtsoudis, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesiology and public health and director of critical care services at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, N.Y., and lead author of the study. "This work suggests that fear of in-hospital falls is not a reason to avoid regional anesthesia for orthopedic surgery."

Researchers analyzed the types of anesthesia used in 191,570 knee replacement surgeries: 76.2% of patients had general anesthesia, 10.9% had spinal or epidural anesthesia, and 12.9% had a combination of neuraxial and general anesthesia. In addition, 12.1% of all patients had peripheral nerve block. When researchers then analyzed the type of anesthesia used for those who fell in the hospital, they found little variance. Of patients who had general anesthesia, 1.62% fell, compared to 1.3% of those who had neuraxial anesthesia, and 1.5% who had general and neuraxial anesthesia. Patients who also received a peripheral nerve block had a fall rate of 1.58%.

Dan O'Connor


Also in the News...

UnitedHealthcare Accused of Withholding Payments to Indiana ASCs
ACS Improves Its Surgical Risk Calculator
When Small Hospitals Outperform Big Hospitals
California Out-of-Network ASCs Granted $9.5 Million Settlement in United Healthcare Underpayment Case
Cataract Surgeon Can't Be Blamed for Failure of Anesthesia Providers, Jury Finds
Joan Rivers's Docs Accept Blame, Agree to Pay "Substantial" Amount
IMQ to Survey Medicare- and Medicaid-Deemed Surgical Centers

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

advertiser banner

Other Articles That May Interest You

Anesthesia Alert: Mastering Adductor Canal Blocks

Done correctly, they can help control pain for up to 4 days

Anesthesia Alert

Are Older Patients Getting Too Much Anesthesia?

5 Products to Make Your Anesthesia More Efficient

Are your providers equipped with these helpful technologies?