Regional anesthesia (RA) has been used to reduce pain and opioid usage in elective orthopedic surgery. The hypothesis of this study was that RA would be associated with decreased opioid demand in tibial plateau fracture surgery.
Inpatient opioid consumption and 90-day outpatient opioid prescribing in all patients ≥18 years of age undergoing tibial plateau fracture surgery from July 2013 to July 2018 (n = 264) at a single, level I trauma center were recorded. The presence or absence of perioperative RA was noted. Of 60 patients receiving RA, 52 underwent peripheral nerve blockade (PNB) with single-shot sciatic-popliteal (40.0%; n = 24), femoral (26.7%; n = 16), adductor canal (18.3%; n = 11), or fascia iliaca (1.7%; n = 1) block with ropivacaine. Ten patients received epidural analgesia (EA) with either single-shot spinal (11.7%; n = 7) blocks or continuous epidural (5.0%; n = 3). Additional baseline and treatment characteristics were recorded, including age, sex, race, body mass index (BMI), smoking, chronic opioid use, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score, injury mechanism, additional injuries, open injury, and additional inpatient surgery. Statistical models, including multivariable generalized linear models with propensity score weighting to adjust for baseline patient and treatment characteristics, were used to assess perioperative opioid demand with and without RA.
RA was associated with reduced inpatient opioid usage from 0 to 24 hours postoperatively of approximately 5.2 oxycodone 5-mg equivalents (0.74 incident rate ratio [IRR]; 0.63–0.86 CI; P < .001) and from 24 to 48 hours postoperatively of approximately 2.9 oxycodone 5-mg equivalents (0.78 IRR; 0.64–0.95 CI; P = .014) but not at 48 to 72 hours postoperatively. From 1 month preoperatively to 2 weeks postoperatively, RA was associated with reduced outpatient opioid prescribing of approximately 24.0 oxycodone 5-mg equivalents (0.87; 0.75–0.99; P = .044) and from 1 month preoperatively to 90 days postoperatively of approximately 44.0 oxycodone 5-mg equivalents (0.83; 0.71–0.96; P = .011), although there was no significant difference from 1 month preoperatively to 6 weeks postoperatively. There were no cases of acute compartment syndrome in this cohort.
In tibial plateau fracture surgery, RA was associated with reduced inpatient opioid consumption up to 48 hours postoperatively and reduced outpatient opioid demand up to 90 days postoperatively without an associated risk of acute compartment syndrome. RA should be considered for patients undergoing tibial plateau fracture fixation.