In specialised centres, local anaesthesia is almost always used in groin hernia surgery; whereas in routine surgical practice, regional or general anaesthesia are the methods of choice. In this three-arm multicentre randomised trial, we aimed to compare the three methods of anaesthesia and to determine the extent to which general surgeons can reproduce the excellent results obtained with local anaesthesia in specialised hernia centres.
Between January, 1999, and December, 2001, 616 patients at ten hospitals, were randomly assigned to have either local, regional, or general anaesthesia. Primary endpoints were early and late postoperative complications. Secondary endpoints were duration of surgery and anaesthesia, length of postoperative hospital stay, and time to normal activity. Analysis was by intention to treat.
Intraoperative tolerance for local anaesthesia was high. In the early postoperative period, local anaesthesia was superior to the other two types with respect to almost all endpoints. At 8 days' and 30 days' follow-up, there were no significant differences between the three groups. Although the mean duration of surgery was longer, the total anaesthesia time—ie, time from the start of anaesthesia until the patient left the operating room—was significantly shorter than it was for regional or general anaesthesia.
Local anaesthesia has substantial advantages compared with regional or general anaesthesia, such as shorter duration of admission, less postoperative pain, and fewer micturition difficulties. The favourable results obtained with local anaesthesia in specialised hernia centres can, to a great extent, be reproduced by general surgeons in routine surgical practice.
2003. Vol. 362, no 9387, 853-858 p.