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BACKGROUND: Regional anesthesia is increasingly used in enhanced recovery programs following total hip replacement (THR) and total knee replacement (TKR). However, debate remains about its potential benefit over general anesthesia given that complications following surgery are rare. We assessed the risk of complications in THR and TKR patients receiving regional anesthesia compared with general anesthesia using the world's largest joint replacement registry. METHODS: We studied the National Joint Registry for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man linked to English hospital inpatient episodes for 779,491 patients undergoing THR and TKR. Patients received either regional anesthesia (n = 544,620, 70%) or general anesthesia (n = 234,871, 30%). Outcomes assessed at 90 days included length of stay, readmissions, and complications. Regression models were adjusted for patient and surgical factors to determine the effect of anesthesia on outcomes. RESULTS: Length of stay was reduced with regional anesthesia compared with general anesthesia (THR = -0.49 days, 95% confidence interval [CI] = -0.51 to -0.47 days, P < .001; TKR = -0.47 days, CI = -0.49 to -0.45 days, P < .001). Regional anesthesia also had a reduced risk of readmission (THR odds ratio [OR] = 0.93, CI = 0.90-0.96; TKA OR = 0.91, CI = 0.89-0.93), any complication (THR OR = 0.88, CI = 0.85-0.91; TKA OR = 0.90, CI = 0.87-0.93), urinary tract infection (THR OR = 0.85, CI = 0.77-0.94; TKR OR = 0.87, CI = 0.79-0.96), and surgical site infection (THR OR = 0.87, CI = 0.80-0.95; TKR OR = 0.84, CI = 0.78-0.89). Anesthesia type did not affect the risk of revision surgery or mortality. CONCLUSION: Regional anesthesia was associated with reduced length of stay, readmissions, and complications following THR and TKR when compared with general anesthesia. We recommend regional anesthesia should be considered the reference standard for patients undergoing THR and TKR.

Original publication




Journal article


J arthroplasty

Publication Date





1521 - 1528.e5


anesthesia, hip replacement, knee replacement, orthopedic surgery, outcome research