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Hospital-, anesthesiologist-, surgeon-, and patient-level variations in neuraxial anesthesia use for lower limb revascularization surgery: a population-based cross-sectional study


Background — Although neuraxial anesthesia may promote improved outcomes for patients undergoing lower limb revascularization surgery, its use is decreasing over time. Our objective was to estimate variation in neuraxial (versus general) anesthesia use for lower limb revascularization at the hospital, anesthesiologist, surgeon, and patient levels, which could inform strategies to increase uptake.

Methods — Following protocol registration, we conducted a historical cross-sectional analysis of population-based linked health administrative data in Ontario, Canada. All adults undergoing lower limb revascularization surgery between 2009 and 2018 were identified. Generalized linear models with binomial response distributions, logit links and random intercepts for hospitals, anesthesiologists, and surgeons were used to estimate the variation in neuraxial anesthesia use at the hospital, anesthesiologist, surgeon, and patient levels using variance partition coefficients and median odds ratios. Patient- and hospital-level predictors of neuraxial anesthesia use were identified.

Results — We identified 11,849 patients; 3489 (29.4%) received neuraxial anesthesia. The largest proportion of variation was attributable to the hospital level (50.3%), followed by the patient level (35.7%); anesthesiologists and surgeons had small attributable variation (11.3% and 2.8%, respectively). Mean odds ratio estimates suggested that 2 similar patients would experience a 5.7-fold difference in their odds of receiving a neuraxial anesthetic were they randomly sent to 2 different hospitals. Results were consistent in sensitivity analyses, including limiting analysis to patients with diagnosed peripheral artery disease and separately to those aged >66 years with complete prescription anticoagulant and antiplatelet usage data.

Conclusions — Neuraxial anesthesia use primarily varies at the hospital level. Efforts to promote use of neuraxial anesthesia for lower limb revascularization should likely focus on the hospital context.



Roberts DJ, Mor R, Rosen MN, Talarico R, Lalu MM, Jerath A, Wijeysundera DN, McIsaac DI. Anesth Analg. 2022; 135(6):1282-92. Epub 2022 Oct 11.

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