This report examines the effects of regional versus general anesthesia for infrainguinal bypass procedures performed in the treatment of critical limb ischemia (CLI).
Nonemergent infrainguinal bypass procedures for CLI (defined as rest pain or tissue loss) were identified using the 2005 to 2008 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database using International Classification of Disease, ninth edition, and Current Procedure Terminology codes. Patients were classified according to National Surgical Quality Improvement Program data as receiving either general anesthesia or regional anesthesia. The regional anesthesia group included those specified as having regional, spinal, or epidural anesthesia. Demographic, medical, risk factor, operative, and outcomes data were abstracted for the study sample. Individual outcomes were evaluated according to the following morbidity categories: wound, pulmonary, venous thromboembolic, genitourinary, cardiovascular, and operative. Length of stay, total morbidity, and mortality were also evaluated. Associations between anesthesia types and outcomes were evaluated using linear or logistic regression.
A total of 5,462 inpatient hospital visits involving infrainguinal bypasses for CLI were identified. Mean patient age was 69 ± 12 years; 69% were Caucasian; and 39% were female. In all, 4,768 procedures were performed using general anesthesia and 694 with regional anesthesia. Patients receiving general anesthesia were younger and significantly more likely to have a history of smoking, previous lower-extremity bypass, previous amputation, previous stroke, and a history of a bleeding diathesis including the use of warfarin. Patients receiving regional anesthesia had a higher prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Tibial-level bypasses were performed in 51% of procedures, whereas 49% of procedures were popliteal-level bypasses. Cases performed using general anesthesia demonstrated a higher rate of resident involvement, need for blood transfusion, and operative time. There was no difference in the rate of popliteal-level and infrapopliteal-level bypasses between groups. Infrapopliteal bypass procedures performed using general anesthesia were more likely to involve prosthetic grafts and composite vein. Mortality occurred in 157 patients (3%). The overall morbidity rate was 37%. Mean and median lengths of stay were 7.5 days (±8.1) and 6.0 days (Q1: 4.0, Q3: 8.0), respectively. Multivariate analyses demonstrated no significant differences by anesthesia type in the incidence of morbidity, mortality, or length of stay.
These results provide no evidence to support the systematic avoidance of general anesthesia for lower-extremity bypass procedures. These data suggest that anesthetic choice should be governed by local expertise and practice patterns.