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Anesthesia & Analgesia:
doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000000339
Regional Anesthesia: Research Report

Neuraxial Anesthesia for the Prevention of Postoperative Mortality and Major Morbidity: An Overview of Cochrane Systematic Reviews

Guay, Joanne MD*; Choi, Peter T. MD; Suresh, Santhanam MD; Albert, Natalie MD§; Kopp, Sandra MD; Pace, Nathan Leon MD

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: This analysis summarized Cochrane reviews that assess the effects of neuraxial anesthesia on perioperative rates of death, chest infections, and myocardial infarction.

METHODS: A search was performed in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on July 13, 2012. We have included all Cochrane systematic reviews that examined subjects of any age undergoing any type of surgical (open or endoscopic) procedure, compared neuraxial anesthesia to general anesthesia alone for the surgical anesthesia, or neuraxial anesthesia plus general anesthesia to general anesthesia alone for the surgical anesthesia, and included death, chest infections, myocardial infarction, and/or serious adverse events as outcomes. Studies included in these reviews were selected on the same criteria.

RESULTS: Nine Cochrane reviews were selected for this overview. Their scores on the Overview Quality Assessment Questionnaire varied from 4 to 6 of a maximal possible score of 7. Compared with general anesthesia, neuraxial anesthesia reduced the 0- to-30-day mortality (risk ratio [RR] 0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53–0.94; I2 = 0%) based on 20 studies that included 3006 participants. Neuraxial anesthesia also decreased the risk of pneumonia (RR 0.45; 95% CI, 0.26–0.79; I2 = 0%) based on 5 studies that included 400 participants. No difference was detected in the risk of myocardial infarction between the 2 techniques (RR 1.17; 95% CI, 0.57–2.37; I2 = 0%) based on 6 studies with 849 participants. Compared with general anesthesia alone, adding neuraxial anesthesia to general anesthesia did not affect the 0- to-30-day mortality (RR 1.07; 95% CI, 0.76–1.51; I2 = 0%) based on 18 studies with 3228 participants. No difference was detected in the risk of myocardial infarction between combined neuraxial anesthesia–general anesthesia and general anesthesia alone (RR 0.69; 95% CI, 0.44–1.09; I2 = 0%) based on 8 studies that included 1580 participants. Adding a neuraxial anesthesia to general anesthesia reduced the risk of pneumonia (RR 0.69; 95% CI, 0.49–0.98; I2 = 9%) after adjustment for publication bias and based on 9 studies that included 2433 participants. The quality of the evidence was judged as moderate for all 6 comparisons. The quality of the reporting score of complications related to neuraxial blocks was 9 (4 to 12 [median {range}]) for a possible maximum score of 14.

CONCLUSIONS: Compared with general anesthesia, neuraxial anesthesia may reduce the 0-to-30-day mortality for patients undergoing a surgery with an intermediate-to-high cardiac risk (level of evidence moderate). Large randomized controlled trials on the difference in death and major outcomes between regional and general anesthesia are required.

© 2014 International Anesthesia Research Society

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