Prolonged times to tracheal extubation are those from end of surgery (dressing on the patient) to extubation 15 minutes or longer. They are so long that others in the operating room (OR) generally have exhausted whatever activities can be done. They cause delays in the starts of surgeons’ to-follow cases and are associated with longer duration workdays. Anesthesiologists rate them as being inferior quality. We compare prolonged times to extubation between a teaching hospital in the United States with a phase I postanesthesia care unit (PACU) and a teaching hospital in Japan without a PACU. Our report is especially important during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Anesthesiologists with some patients undergoing general anesthetics and having initial PACU recovery in the ORs where they had surgery can learn from the Japanese anesthesiologists with all patients recovering in ORs.
The historical cohort study included all patients undergoing gynecological surgery at a US hospital (N = 785) or Japanese hospital (N = 699), with the time from OR entrance to end of surgery of at least 4 hours.
The mean times from end of surgery to OR exit were slightly longer at the US hospital than at the Japanese hospital (mean difference 1.9 minutes, P < .0001). The mean from end of surgery to discharge to surgical ward at the US hospital also was longer (P < .0001), mean difference 2.2 hours. The sample standard deviations of times from end of surgery until tracheal extubation was 40 minutes for the US hospital versus 4 minutes at the Japanese hospital (P < .0001). Prolonged times to tracheal extubation were 39% of cases at the US hospital versus 6% at the Japanese hospital; relative risk 6.40, 99% confidence interval (CI), 4.28–9.56. Neither patient demographics, case characteristics, surgeon, anesthesiologist, nor anesthesia provider significantly revised the risk ratio. There were 39% of times to extubation that were prolonged among the patients receiving neither remifentanil nor desflurane (all such patients at the US hospital) versus 6% among the patients receiving both remifentanil and desflurane (all at the Japanese hospital). The relative risk 7.12 (99% CI, 4.59–11.05) was similar to that for the hospital groups.
Differences in anesthetic practice can facilitate major differences in patient recovery soon after anesthesia, useful when the patient will recover initially in the OR or if the phase I PACU is expected to be unable to admit the patient.