Use of Anesthesia Care for Cataract Surgery Examined

Anesthesia care is more common among Medicare beneficiaries undergoing cataract surgery versus other low-risk procedures, and fewer cataract surgery patients experience systemic complications within seven days, according to a study published online Oct. 3 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Dhivya Perumal, M.D., from the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues examined predictors of anesthesia care in Medicare beneficiaries undergoing cataract surgery in 2017 in a retrospective cohort study including Medicare beneficiaries aged 66 years or older. In addition, anesthesia care was compared for cataract surgery and other elective, low-risk, outpatient procedures. Data were included for 36,652 cataract surgery patients.

The researchers found that anesthesia care was more common among patients undergoing cataract surgery compared with other low-risk procedures (89.8 percent versus range of <1 to 70.2 percent). No strong correlation was seen for patient age or for the Charlson Comorbidity Index with anesthesia care for cataract surgery; however, anesthesia care was predicted by a model composed of a single variable identifying the ophthalmologist (C statistic, 0.96). Overall, 6.0 and 76.6 percent of the ophthalmologists never and always used anesthesia care, while 17.4 percent used it for only a subset of patients. Compared with patients undergoing other low-risk procedures, fewer cataract surgery patients experienced systemic complications within seven days (7.7 versus 13.2 to 52.2 percent, respectively).

“Because most ophthalmologists always use anesthesia care for cataract surgery, these findings suggest an opportunity to use anesthesia care more selectively in patients undergoing cataract surgery,” the authors write.

One author disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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