Is Anesthesia Technique Associated With a Higher Risk of Mortality or Complications Within 90 Days of Surgery for Geriatric Patients With Hip Fractures?

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Postoperative mortality and complications after geriatric hip fracture surgery remain high despite efforts to improve perioperative care for these patients. One factor of particular interest is anesthetic technique, but prior studies on this are limited by sample selection, competing risks, and incomplete followup.


(1) Among older patients undergoing surgery for hip fracture, does 90-day mortality differ depending on the type of anesthesia received? (2) Do 90-day emergency department returns and hospital readmissions differ based on anesthetic technique after geriatric hip fracture repairs? (3) Do 90-day Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) outcomes differ according to anesthetic techniques used during hip fracture surgery?


We conducted a retrospective study on geriatric patients (65 years or older) with hip fractures between 2009 and 2014 using the Kaiser Permanente Hip Fracture Registry. A total of 1995 (11%) of the surgically treated patients with hip fracture were excluded as a result of missing anesthesia information. The final study sample consisted of 16,695 patients. Of these, 2027 (12%) died and 98 (< 1%) terminated membership during followup, which were handled as competing events and censoring events, respectively. Ninety-day mortality, emergency department returns, hospital readmission, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE), myocardial infarction (MI), and pneumonia were evaluated using multivariable competing risk proportional subdistribution hazard regression according to type of anesthesia technique: general anesthesia, regional anesthesia, or conversion from regional to general. Of the 16,695 patients, 58% (N = 9629) received general anesthesia, 40% (N = 6597) received regional anesthesia, and 2.8% (N = 469) patients were converted from regional to general.


Compared with regional anesthesia, patients treated with general anesthesia had a higher likelihood of overall 90-day mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 1.22; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11-1.35; p < 0.001); however, when stratified by before and after hospital discharge but within 90 days of surgery, this higher risk was only observed during the inpatient stay (HR, 3.83; 95% CI, 3.18-4.61; p < 0.001); no difference was observed after hospital discharge (HR, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.94-1.16; p = 0.408). Patients undergoing conversion from regional to general also had a higher overall mortality risk compared with those undergoing regional anesthesia (HR, 1.34; 95% CI 1.04-1.74; p = 0.026), but this risk was only observed during their inpatient stay (HR, 6.84; 95% CI, 4.21-11.11; p < 0.001) when stratifying by before and after hospital discharge. Patients undergoing general anesthesia had a higher risk for all-cause readmission when compared with regional anesthesia (HR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.01-1.19; p = 0.026). No differences according to anesthesia type were observed for risk of 90-day AHRQ outcomes, including DVT/PE, MI, and pneumonia.


We found the use of general anesthesia and conversion from regional to general anesthesia were associated with a higher risk of mortality during the in-hospital stay compared with regional anesthetic techniques, but this higher risk did not persist after hospital discharge. We also found general anesthesia to be associated with a higher risk of all-cause readmission compared with regional, but no other differences were observed in risk for complications. Our findings suggest regional anesthetic techniques may be preferred when possible in this patient population.

Level of Evidence

Level III, therapeutic study.

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