Dec 10, 2021
Geriatric anesthesia is a thing. The average age of people getting surgery is increasing. Anesthesiologists and surgeons feel that with new techniques and approaches they can perform surgery on patients at ever older ages, patients who they previously would have excluded from surgery.
One of the key advances in geriatric anesthesia is the use of spinal anesthesia, a form of regional anesthesia that also includes epidurals and peripheral nerve blocks. When older adults experience a hip fracture, there’s a growing consensus that spinal anesthesia offers superior outcomes compared to general anesthesia.
It’s surprising therefore, to talk with Mark Neuman about the results of his randomized trial in NEJM, which finds essentially no difference between general anesthesia and spinal. Importantly, as a primary outcome Mark selected walking ability based on feedback from older adults - this is the outcome our patients care about most. But he finds no difference in primary outcome or secondary outcomes, including (surprisingly) delirium.
We break down potential reasons, with thoughtful commentary from Liz Whitlock and Cindy Hsu, two anesthesiologists with experience caring for older adults with hip fracture. Liz is a friend of the pod and researcher who we interviewed previously about “pumphead.” Cindy is...my wife. She also helps me out with the accompaniment on piano as it’s tough for me to play guitar with a broken clavicle. Thank you dear wife! We had fun learning to play/sing Drivers License by Olivia Rodrigo. Ah...teen angst...the angst!!!