April 3, 2024

Study shows patient bias for general over regional anesthesia, importance of preoperative education

Editor's Note

A recent study from the UK, the results of which were presented at the 6th annual World Congress on Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, shed light on patients' preferences and understandings regarding anesthesia options for outpatient orthopedic surgery, Anesthesiology News March 18 reports. It revealed a stronger expectation for general anesthesia over regional anesthesia.

The study’s investigators did “semistructured postoperative interviews” with 19 patients undergoing an outpatient orthopedic surgical procedure, which were analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings, which the article noted could mirror attitudes in the US, suggest this preference stems from a lack of understanding about regional anesthesia, which could be corrected through more thorough preoperative consultations.

Other highlights of the study include:

  • Two main themes identified—a strong bias toward general anesthesia and the effectiveness of preoperative anesthetic discussions
  • Patients who showed preconceptions about anesthesia—often influenced by their own online research—expressed concerns about being awake during surgery
  • Preoperative consultations were seen as crucial for patient satisfaction and acceptance of regional anesthesia
  • Patients expressed a desire for certainty and sufficient time to discuss their anesthesia options well before the day of surgery.

These findings suggest that general anesthesia is often considered the default choice by patients due to misconceptions and a general lack of information about regional anesthesia. The researchers highlighted the importance of educating patients and holding discussions early about anesthesia options to address the perceived risks of regional anesthesia in outpatient orthopedic surgeries.

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