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General anesthesia is an acceptable choice for hip fracture surgery
  1. Eric S Schwenk1 and
  2. Colin JL McCartney2
  1. 1Anesthesiology, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Eric S Schwenk, Anesthesiology, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA; Eric.Schwenk{at}


The debate over the optimal type of anesthesia for hip fracture surgery continues to rage. While retrospective evidence in elective total joint arthroplasty has suggested a reduction in complications with neuraxial anesthesia, previous retrospective studies in the hip fracture population have been mixed. Recently, two multicenter randomized, controlled trials (REGAIN and RAGA) have been published that examined delirium, ambulation at 60 days, and mortality in patients with hip fractures who were randomized to spinal or general anesthesia. These trials enrolled a combined 2,550 patients and found that spinal anesthesia did not confer a mortality benefit nor a reduction in delirium or greater proportion who could ambulate at 60 days. While these trials were not perfect, they call into question the practice of telling patients that spinal anesthesia is a “safer” choice for their hip fracture surgery. We believe a risk/benefit discussion should take place with each patient and that ultimately the patient should choose his or her anesthesia type after being informed of the state of the evidence. General anesthesia is an acceptable choice for hip fracture surgery.

  • Anesthesia, Local
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Postoperative Complications

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  • Twitter @ESchwenkMD, @colinjmccartney

  • Contributors Both authors helped write the daring discourse and contributed to the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests ESS was a coinvestigator for the REGAIN trial and a coauthor for the published manuscript.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.