Background and objective: The efficiency of operating room times can be significantly improved using rapid changes between operative procedures. We performed a retrospective analysis using electronic anaesthesia charts that compared anaesthesia-related times between the three most frequently performed types of anaesthesia (for orthopaedic surgery) to evaluate the potential for a quicker turn-around between cases.
Methods: A total of 5614 anaesthetic procedures in trauma-related orthopaedic surgery were performed from 1997 to 1999. All were documented with an automatic record-keeping system. Data were compared for intravenous anaesthesia with the laryngeal mask airway, balanced anaesthesia with tracheal intubation and regional anaesthesia. The primary outcome measure was the time needed for emergence from anaesthesia after the end of surgery. Statistical evaluation was performed with matched triples for all three types of anaesthesia (155 triples for ambulatory surgery, 249 triples for in-patient care).
Results: For ambulatory surgery, the induction time was significantly shorter for general anaesthesia (23.7 min for intravenous anaesthesia, 22.7 min for balanced anaesthesia techniques) compared with regional anaesthesia (27.2 min). The time from the end of the surgical procedure to transfer of the patient out of the operating room was shortest for regional anaesthesia (6.3 min) compared with intravenous anaesthesia (9.0 min) and balanced anaesthesia (12.5 min) techniques. Results were comparable for in-patients: regional anaesthesia required significantly longer for its induction, but less time for patient discharge from the operating room.
Conclusions: The use of a regional anaesthesia technique or one involving intravenous anaesthesia in combination with the laryngeal mask airway may lead to a reduction in discharge time compared with a balanced anaesthesia technique with endotracheal intubation. Thus, improved use of resources may be achieved.