Regional Anesthesia and Readmission Rates After Total Knee Arthroplasty

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BACKGROUND:Total knee arthroplasty is a commonly performed procedure and an important contributor to national health care spending. Reducing the incidence of readmission could have important consequences for patient well-being and relevant financial implications. Whether regional anesthesia techniques are associated with decreased readmission rates and costs among privately insured patients remains unknown.METHODS:Using administrative claims data, we identified 138,362 privately insured patients 18–64 years of age who underwent total knee arthroplasty between 2002 and 2013. We then examined whether the use of a nerve block was associated with decreases in readmission rates and related costs during the 90 days after discharge. Our analyses were adjusted for potential confounding variables including medical comorbidities and previous use of opioids and other medications.RESULTS:After adjusting for patient demographics, comorbidities, and preoperative medication use, the adjusted 90-day readmission rate was 1.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1–2.4) among patients who did not receive a block compared to 1.7% (95% CI, 1.1–2.4) among patients who did (odds ratio, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.91–1.09; P = .85). The adjusted readmission-related postoperative cost for patients who did not receive a block was $561 (95% CI, 502–619) and $574 (95% CI, 508–639) for patients who did (difference, $13; 95% CI, −75 to 102; P = .74). This lack of statistically significant differences held for subgroup and sensitivity analyses.CONCLUSIONS:Nerve blocks were not associated with improved measures of long-term postoperative resource use in this younger, privately insured study population.

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