October 4, 2022

Study: Routine use of anesthesia personnel in cataract surgery questioned

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study led by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, finds that it may be reasonable to consider performing cataract surgery without routine anesthesia support.

Medicare claims for 36,652 patients who had cataract surgery were analyzed.

Among the findings:

  • 89.8% had an anesthesia provider, compared to a range of less than 1% to 70.2% for patients having other low-risk elective procedures
  • fewer cataract patients experienced systemic complications within 7 days (7.7%) than patients having other low-risk procedures (from 13.2% to 52.2%)
  • approximately 6.0% of ophthalmologists never use anesthesia providers, 76.6% always use them, and 17.4% use them only for a subset of patients
  • patients of ophthalmologists who never use anesthesia providers had a 7.4% rate of systemic complications.

Results show that systemic complications occurred less frequently in cataract surgery patients than in patients having procedures during which anesthesia care was less commonly  used, suggesting an opportunity to use anesthesia resources more selectively in cataract patients.


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