The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 34, Issue 7, 1417 - 1422

General vs Spinal Anesthesia for Revision Total Knee Arthroplasty: Do Complication Rates Differ?

Wilson, Jacob M. et al.


The incidence of both primary total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and revision TKA is increasing. Data from primary arthroplasty patients suggest a risk reduction with the use of spinal anesthesia when compared with general anesthesia. However, the same relationship has not been examined in the revision knee arthroplasty patient.


This is a retrospective cohort study using the American College of Surgeons-National Surgical Quality Improvement database. Patients undergoing revision TKA with either spinal or general anesthesia were identified from the database. Baseline characteristics were compared, and ultimately patients were matched using coarsened exact matching. Multivariate analysis was then performed on matched cohorts controlling for baseline patient and operative characteristics. This model was used to look for any differences in rates of complications, operative time, length of stay, and readmission.


Patients undergoing revision TKA with general anesthesia had increased risk of several postoperative complications, even after controlling for baseline patient characteristics. Specifically, there were significantly increased rates of the following: unplanned readmission (OR = 1.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.18-1.72, P < .001), nonhome discharge (OR = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.46-1.76, P < .001), transfusion (OR = 1.63, 95% CI = 1.41-1.88, P < .001), deep surgical site infection (OR = 1.43, 95% CI = 1.01-2.03, P = .043), and extended length of stay (OR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.11-1.34, P < .001). General anesthesia was additionally associated with increased operative time.


General anesthesia is associated with increased risk of numerous postoperative complications in patients undergoing revision TKA. This study is retrospective in nature, and while causality cannot be definitively determined, the results suggest that spinal anesthesia is preferential to general anesthesia in the revision TKA patient.

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