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Int Anesthesiol Clin. 2002 Winter;40(1):61-71.

General anesthesia versus regional anesthesia.

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  • 1Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


No distinct advantage is apparent between regional and general anesthesia when considering perioperative cardiac morbidity and mortality in peripheral vascular surgery. However, there is some evidence to support regional anesthesia over general anesthesia in an effort to optimize graft patency if the regional technique is extended into the postoperative period to provide neuraxial analgesia. An inadequate number of randomized, controlled trials have been conducted to determine whether regional or general anesthesia should be performed for carotid endarterectomy. The nonrandomized trials do support regional anesthesia by virtue of reductions in stroke, myocardial infarction, and death. A randomized, prospective trial is needed to verify these outcomes. The choice of technique does not appear to affect mortality in patients requiring hip fracture surgery, although Urwin et al. (29) reported less 1-month mortality in patients receiving regional anesthesia. General anesthesia has been associated with increased blood loss and thromboembolic complications in patients undergoing hip fracture repair. Epidural anesthesia has been shown to promote quicker return of bowel function postoperatively when the catheter has been sited at T12 or higher. Anastomotic breakdown in patients with epidural anesthesia/analgesia has rarely been reported. Most studies tend to show quicker return of bowel function when local anesthetics alone are administered epidurally.

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