Publication Date



The Iowa Orthopaedic Journal


Background: Though evidence demonstrating benefits of local anesthetic continues to compound, a consensus among surgeons regarding optimal anesthetic modality has not been reached. General and regional anesthetic may still be preferred for patient anxiety, concomitant procedures, increased complexity, or poor patient pain tolerance. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to analyze trends in anesthetic utilization using a large-scale state healthcare database for common outpatient hand procedures. We hypothesize that over the 10 years between 2010-2019, local anesthetic [including Wide-Awake Local Anesthesia with no Tourniquet (WALANT)] utilization use for common hand procedures has increased, while the use of general and regional anesthesia has decreased.

Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was performed using the Texas Healthcare Information Collection Outpatient Database between 2010-2019. The de-identified data was queried for reported Current Procedure Terminology (CPT) anesthetic and associated procedure codes for the following ambulatory techniques: open carpal tunnel release, endoscopic carpal tunnel release, trigger finger release, De Quervain's release, partial palmar fasciectomy, and hand mass excision. Anesthetic options included: regional anesthesia (RA), local or WALANT anesthesia (LA), and general anesthesia (GA).

Results: There were 340,117 procedures performed during the study period. 98.14% of patient records reported LA application, while GA and RA only accounted for 0.41% and 1.45%, respectively. No significant growth was found for each form of anesthetic individually [LA: -0.12%, RA: 0.09%, and GA: 0.03%]. However, a significant difference in proportional growth is present when comparing all anesthetics (Figure 1, p<0.001). Commercial/ private insurance was the most common payer regardless of anesthesia type, though Medicaid payment source covered a larger proportion of procedures performed under GA [Medicaid: 2.48%, Medicare: 0.37%, worker's compensation: 0.12%, commercial/private insurance: 0.20%].

Conclusion: LA was the most utilized modality over the study period, though a significant proportion of usage has shifted back towards RA and GA over time. Commercial/private insurance was the most frequent reimbursement source for all procedures, though Medicaid covered disproportionately more procedures utilizing GA. RA use was noted to be disproportionately higher in mid-sized population centers (2-4 million in population). Level of Evidence: IV.


Aged, Humans, United States, Anesthetics, Local, Cross-Sectional Studies, Medicare, Anesthesia, Local, Upper Extremity, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Anesthesia, General, ambulatory surgery, hand surgery, anesthesia, orthopedic surgery


PMID: 38213847

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