, Volume 21, Issue 4 Supplement, pp 555-572
Date: 06 Nov 2010

Neuroaxial versus general anaesthesia in geriatric patients for hip fracture surgery: does it matter?

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The influence of the mode of anaesthesia on outcome of geriatric patients with hip fractures is a controversial issue in the medical literature. In the light of an ageing society, a conclusive answer to this question is of growing importance. The purpose of this review was to assess the effect of neuroaxial and general anaesthesia on mortality and morbidity in geriatric patients sustaining a hip fracture. Following a current literature search within the Pubmed and Cochrane database (1967–2010), 34 randomised controlled trials, 14 observational studies and eight reviews/meta-analysis publications were included. Potentially outcome-influencing factors such as mortality, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, postoperative confusion and other anaesthesia-related outcomes were evaluated. After analysing the current literature with 56 references, covering 18,715 patients with hip fracture, it can be concluded that spinal anaesthesia is associated with significantly reduced early mortality, fewer incidents of deep vein thrombosis, less acute postoperative confusion, a tendency to fewer myocardial infarctions, fewer cases of pneumonia, fatal pulmonary embolism and postoperative hypoxia. General anaesthesia has the advantages of having a lower incidence of hypotension and a tendency towards fewer cerebrovascular accidents compared to neuroaxial anaesthesia. Otherwise, general anaesthesia and respiratory diseases were significant predictors of morbidity in hip fracture patients. These data suggest that regional anaesthesia is the preferred technique, but the limited evidence available does not permit a definitive conclusion to be drawn for mortality or other outcomes. For hip fracture surgery, the choice of anaesthesia (general or neuroaxial) is made by the anaesthesiologist and is based on the patient’s preference, comorbidities, potential general postoperative complications and the clinical experience of the anaesthesiologist. The overall therapeutic approach in hip fracture care should be determined jointly by the orthopaedic surgeon, the geriatrician and the anaesthesiologist (multidisciplinary approach).