Hip fracture specialists facilitate low-dose spinal anaesthesia in fractured neck of femur surgery


Hip fracture surgery; spinal anaesthesia; frailty; surgical training; anaesthetics training; peri-operative morbidity

Published online: Aug 23 2022


David E. Brooks, Susanna N. Ritchie-McLean, Wystan Chevannes, Martyn J. Parker, Richard Griffiths

From the Department of Anaesthesia, Peterborough City Hospital, Bretton Gate, Peterborough, PE3 9GZ, UK


Fractured neck of femur is a common but potentially devastating complication of frailty. In other surgical specialities, there is an inverse relationship between surgical experience and duration of surgery; however, this has not been quantified in hip trauma. In perioperative hip fracture care, prolonged surgery may be associated with increased morbidity and significantly impacts on the conduct of anaesthesia. Specifically, low-dose spinal anaesthesia, which is associated with improved haemodynamic stability, cannot be used if surgery is likely to be prolonged. We studied the duration of hip fracture surgery undertaken in our institution and compared this to surgical expertise. We retrospectively explored our theatre database to identify patients who underwent hip fracture surgery in our hospital over a 62-month period, recording duration of surgery and primary operating surgeon. Surgeons were classified into one of 3 groups: Consultant hip surgeon (specialist interest in hip surgery), Consultant orthopaedic surgeon but non-hip specialist, or Non-consultant (trainee or non-training grade). We identified 1426 hip fracture procedures. Consultant hip surgeons performed all types of hip fracture surgery faster, and with reduced variation in surgical duration, than did either non-hip specialist consultants or non-consultant grades. Consultant hip surgeons consistently performed hip fracture surgery in under 60 minutes. Specialist consultant hip surgeons make low-dose spinal anaesthesia (with shorter block duration but increased haemodynamic stability) feasible. Our data supports the development of dedicated hip fracture trauma lists where patients should be operated on by specialist hip surgeons or trainees directly under their supervision.