Did you know that the use of regional anesthesia for total knee replacement surgery isn’t all that uncommon?
General anesthesia brings with it fear in many people that they’ll “never wake up.”
Don’t let the fear of general anesthesia stop you from pursuing total knee replacement surgery if your knee has reached a point of hopelessness with conservative treatment.
Yes, there are surgeons who use regional anesthesia to perform total knee replacements.
Now that you know that, it’s very logical to wonder why this approach isn’t utilized more often than general for knee replacement (or revision) surgery, since the risk of dangerous blood clots is less with the regional.
A blood clot that results from surgery is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A DVT can break loose and migrate to the lungs and kill a patient.
“In general, the risk of DVT is slightly higher with general anesthesia than with regional,” says orthopedic surgeon David Fisher, MD, Director of the Total Joint Center at the Indiana Orthopedic Hospital. “With prophylaxis of anticoagulation, the risk is between 1-2%.”
Anticoagulation refers to the use of blood thinning drugs. “The risk with regional (with or without general combined) tends to be on the lower side.”
Thus, there is no doubt that regional anesthesia wins over general for knee replacement surgery as far as yielding a lower risk of DVT development.
But regional anesthesia’s advantage over general doesn’t end there.
“Additional benefits from the regional include better postoperative pain control, and decreased anesthesia side effects (nausea, vomiting, hangover effect),” continues Dr. Fisher.
“Regional options include peripheral nerve blocks, spinal anesthetic, and epidural anesthesia.
“Depending on the hospital and anesthesiologist’s abilities or competency at administering regional anesthesia, local physicians may have preferences.
“If a patient wanted regional anesthesia, I would think the surgeon would be agreeable to having it provided.”
Dr. Fisher has been involved in research and development of total hip and knee implants and has had numerous articles published in professional journals, and has participated in many research projects.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.