Traditional landmark-guided spinal anesthesia can be challenging in elderly patients with hip fractures. Ultrasound assistance (USAS) and real-time ultrasound guidance (USRTG) techniques can facilitate lumbar neuraxial blocks. However, it remains undetermined which method is optimal for use in elderly patients. This study aimed to evaluate which technique was associated with a higher success rate of spinal anesthesia in elderly patients with hip fractures: USAS or USRTG technique.
A total of 114 elderly patients (≥70 years of age) with hip fractures were randomly assigned to receive spinal anesthesia using either the USAS or USRTG technique. The primary outcome was the first-attempt success rate, analyzed using the χ2 test. Secondary outcomes included first-pass success rate, the number of needle attempts and passes, locating time, procedure time, total time, adverse reactions and complications, patient satisfaction, and procedural difficulty score.
The first-attempt success rate (80.7% vs 52.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI], for the difference, 11.6–44.6) and first-pass success rate (63.2% vs 31.6%; 95% CI for the difference, 14.2–49) were both significantly higher in the USAS compared with the USRTG group (both P = .001). The number of attempts (1 [1–1] vs 1 [1–3]; P = .001) and median passes (1 vs 3; P < .001) were both significantly lower in the USAS group than in the USRTG group. The USRTG group had a shorter locating time (175 seconds [129–234 seconds] vs 315 seconds [250–390 seconds]; P < .001) but a longer procedure time (488 seconds [260–972 seconds] vs 200 seconds [127–328 seconds]; P < .001) and total time (694 seconds [421–1133 seconds] vs 540 seconds [432–641 seconds]; P = .036). There were no significant differences between the 2 groups with regard to the adverse reactions and complications. More patients in the USAS group had a high satisfaction score of 3 to 5 (P = .008). Overall, anesthesiologists rated the USRTG group procedure as “more difficult” (P = .008).
In elderly patients with hip fractures, spinal anesthesia with the USRTG technique is not superior to the USAS technique since it has a lower success rate, longer procedure time, lower satisfaction score, and is more difficult to perform. So USAS technique may be more suitable for elderly patients.
- Question: Which technique is associated with a higher success rate of spinal anesthesia in elderly patients with hip fractures: ultrasound assistance, or real-time ultrasound guidance technique?
- Findings: In elderly patients with hip fractures, real-time ultrasound–guided spinal anesthesia presented a lower first-attempt success rate and first-pass success rate than ultrasound assistance.
- Meaning: Ultrasound-assisted spinal anesthesia can be more suitable for elderly patients than real-time ultrasound guidance.