Authors: Hillenn Cruz Eng, MD, et al
Anesthesiology 12 2015, Vol.123, 1256-1266.
Background: Common standard practice after complex arthroscopic elbow surgery includes hospital admission for 72 h. The authors hypothesized that an expedited care pathway, with 24 h of hospital admission and ambulatory brachial plexus analgesia and continuous passive motion at home, results in equivalent elbow range of motion (ROM) 2 weeks after surgery compared with standard 72-h hospital admission.
Methods: A randomized, single-blinded study was conducted after obtaining approval from the research ethics board. Forty patients were randomized in a 1:1 ratio using a computer-generated list of random numbers into an expedited care pathway group (24-h admission) and a control group (72-h admission). They were treated equally aside from the predetermined hospital length of stay.
Results: Patients in the control (n = 19) and expedited care pathway (n = 19) groups achieved similar elbow ROM 2 weeks (119 ± 18 degrees and 121 ± 15 degrees, P = 0.627) and 3 months (130 ± 18 vs.130 ± 11 degrees, P = 0.897) postoperatively. The mean difference in elbow ROM at 2 weeks was 2.6 degrees (95% CI, −8.3 to 13.5). There were no differences in analgesic outcomes, physical function scores, and patient satisfaction up to 3 months postoperatively. Total hospital cost of care was 15% lower in the expedited care pathway group.
Conclusion: The results suggest that an expedited care pathway with early hospital discharge followed by ambulatory brachial plexus analgesia and continuous passive motion at home is a cost-effective alternative to 72 h of hospital admission after complex arthroscopic elbow surgery.