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Ophthalmology. 2005 Feb;112(2):272-7.

Monitored anesthesia care provided by registered respiratory care practitioners during cataract surgery: a report of 1957 cases.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.



To evaluate the safety and feasibility of having monitored anesthesia care during cataract surgery provided by registered respiratory care practitioners (RRCPs).


Retrospective case series.


One thousand nine hundred fifty-seven consecutive patients undergoing cataract surgery at one surgical center between November 2001 and October 2003.


Phacoemulsification cataract surgery with intraocular lens insertion was performed using topical anesthesia, with or without IV sedatives. An RRCP, trained to function as an anesthesia assistant, provided monitored anesthesia care during all stages of surgery, with an anesthesiologist immediately available for consultation or assistance as required.


The number of serious medical complications resulting from the anesthesia or surgery was measured. The rate of anesthesiologist intervention required at each stage of surgery--preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative--was determined, along with the reasons for the interventions. Age, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) risk class (a rating of preoperative physical status), and number of IV sedative agents given were analyzed as potential predictors of the need for anesthesiologist intervention.


Among the 1957 cataract surgeries, there were no adverse medical events that resulted in death, hospitalization, or tracheal intubation. Two cases were aborted intraoperatively for medical reasons. A total of 78 cases (4.0%) required anesthesiologist intervention, with 34 (1.7%) requiring preoperative intervention, 43 (2.2%) requiring intraoperative intervention, and 3 (0.2%) requiring postoperative intervention; 4 cases required 2 separate interventions. The mean age of the intervention group (73.9 years) was statistically greater than that of the nonintervention group (71.0) (P = 0.02). A higher ASA rating (>2) correlated with an increased need for anesthesiologist intervention in terms of the total intervention rate (P<0.0001) and the intraoperative rate alone (P<0.0001). The use of more IV sedative agents (2 or 3 vs. 0 or 1) was marginally associated with a higher total intervention rate (P = 0.053) but not with a higher intraoperative intervention rate (P = 0.68).


With the inherent safety of cataract surgery and the relatively low need for anesthesiologist intervention, we believe it is justified to allow RRCPs, trained as anesthesia assistants, to provide monitored anesthesia care during cataract surgery so long as anesthesiologist support is directly available when required. Potential benefits include cost savings in health care and decreased demand for anesthesiology services. To validate formally the preservation of patient safety from such a change in practice, however, a larger sample size would be required due to the inherently low rate of cataract surgery complications.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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