Epidural Anaesthesia: How Easy Is It to Walk on Quicksand?

DOI: 10.1515/jccm-2016-0032

The effectiveness of neuraxial blockade remains a very debatable issue. Many orthopaedic surgical procedures can be performed using either a single spinal shot, an epidural catheter neuraxial blockade, or general anesthesia.
Memtsoudis (2013) reviewed nearly 400.000 patients undergoing primary hip or knee arthroplasties compared neuraxial versus general anesthesia, and reported that the 30-day mortality, the length of stay, the hospital cost and the in-hospital complications were all was significantly lower than with other forms of anesthesia [1]. Similarly Helwan (2015) in a study comparing general with regional anesthesia for total hip arthroplasty reported a reduction in deep surgical site infection rates, the length of hospital stay, postoperative cardiovascular rates, and pulmonary complications [2]. However, a recent systematic review of more than 10.000 patients enrolled in randomized control trials and prospective comparative studies, found no statistically significant differences between spinal or epidural blockade and general anaesthesia with respect to mortality, surgical duration, surgical site of infections, nerve palsies, postoperative nausea and vomiting or thromboembolic diseases, when thrombo-prophylaxis was used. The authors concluded that there is limited evidence to support the view that neuraxial anesthesia is superior to general anesthesia with regards to postoperative outcomes [3]. [More]

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