Randomized comparison between sevoflurane anaesthesia and unilateral spinal anaesthesia in elderly patients undergoing orthopaedic surgery

Andrea Casati, G. Aldegheri, F. Vinciguerra, A. Marsan, G. Fraschini, G. Torri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objective: This prospective, randomized study was conducted to compare unilateral spinal block using small doses of hyperbaric bupivacaine and single-agent anaesthesia with sevoflurane in elderly patients undergoing hip surgery. Methods: Thirty patients (>65 yr) undergoing hip fracture repair were randomly allocated to receive unilateral spinal anaesthesia with hyperbaric bupivacaine 7.5 mg 0.5% (Group Spinal, n = 15) or volatile induction and maintenance anaesthesia with sevoflurane (Group SEVO, n = 15). General anaesthesia was induced by increasing the inspired concentration to 5%. A laryngeal mask airway was placed without muscle relaxants, and the end-tidal concentrations of sevoflurane were adjusted to maintain cardiovascular stability. Hypotension (decrease in systolic arterial pressure > 20% from baseline), hypertension or bradycardia (heart rate <50 beats min-1) requiring treatment, and the length of stay in the postanaesthesia care unit was recorded. Cognitive functions were evaluated the previous day, and 1 and 7 days after surgery with the Mini Mental State Examination test. Results: Hypotension occurred in seven patients of Group Spinal (46%) and in 12 patients of Group SEVO (80%) (P = 0.05). Phenylephrine was required to control hypotension in three spinal patients (21%) and four SEVO patients (26%) (n.s.). SEVO patients had lower heart rates than spinal patients from 15 to 60 min after anaesthesia induction (P = 0.01). Bradycardia was observed in three SEVO patients (22%). Discharge from the postanaesthesia care unit required 15 (range 5-30) min in Group Spinal and 55 (15-80) min in Group SEVO (P = 0.0005). Eight patients in Group Spinal (53%) and nine patients in Group SEVO (60%) showed cognitive decline (Mini Mental State Examination test decreased ≥ 2 points from baseline) 24 h after surgery (n.s.). Seven days after surgery, confusion was still present in one patient of Group Spinal (6%) and in three patients of Group SEVO (20%) (n.s.). Conclusions: In elderly patients undergoing hemiarthroplasty of the hip, induction and maintenance with sevoflurane provide a rapid emergence from anaesthesia without more depression of postoperative cognitive function compared with unilateral spinal anaesthesia. This technique represents an attractive option when patient refusal, lack of adequate co-operation or concomitant anticoagulant therapy contraindicate the use of spinal anaesthesia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-646
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Anaesthesiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2003


  • Adult, aged
  • Anaesthesia, conduction, anaesthesia spinal
  • Anaesthetics inhalation, sevoflurane
  • Anaesthetics, local, bupivacaine
  • Mental processes, cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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