Cervical plexus anesthesia versus general anesthesia for anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery: A randomized clinical trial

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Both general anesthesia (GA) and cervical plexus anesthesia (CPA) can be used for anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of anesthetic techniques on perioperative mortality and morbidity in patients undergoing cervical surgery.

From January 2008 to December 2015, 356 patients who underwent 1-level ACDF for cervical spinal myelopathy were prospectively reviewed. They were assigned to receive GA (group A) and CPA (group B). The analgesic efficacy of the block was assessed by anesthesia preparation time, the maximum heart rate, and mean arterial blood pressure changes compared with the baseline, time of postoperative revival, and duration of recovery stay. Duration of surgery, blood loss, and anesthesia medical cost were also recorded. Numerical rating scale (NRS) was used to evaluate pain at different time points. Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) was assessed, and postoperative average administered dosages of meperidine and metoclopramide were also recorded. The spinal surgeon satisfaction, anesthetist satisfaction, and patient satisfaction were assessed.

Both the anesthesia induction time and postoperative revival time were longer in group A than that in group B; both the duration of surgery and recovery stay were also longer in group A than that in group B, whereas there was no difference in blood loss between the 2 groups. The average dosage of both meperidine and metoclopramide was more in group A than that in group B, and the anesthesia medical cost was greater in group A than that in group B. There were no significant differences in baseline data of systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate between the 2 groups. But the intraoperative data of systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate were higher/larger in group B than that in group A. In group A, there was no complaint of pain in the surgery procedure, but the pain increased after GA, with highest degree at 8 hours postoperation; then the pain degree decreased, and the NRS was 1 at 24 hours postoperation. In group B, intraoperative pain was NRS 4, and pain degree decreased from 4 hours postoperation; the NRS was 2 at 24 hours postoperation. The incidence of severe PONV was higher in group A than that in group B. There was no significant difference in the spinal surgeon satisfaction and anesthetist satisfaction for the anesthetic techniques. There was significant difference in patient satisfaction between the 2 groups, with high satisfaction for GA.

General anesthesia is superior to CPA in maintaining better intraoperative hemodynamic stability and providing high patient satisfaction with no intraoperative pain for patients receiving ACDF, but it entails longer surgery and anesthesia time, and requires more postoperative analgesic and anesthesia cost.

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