This information has been prepared by Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA).  It is only a guide and should not replace information supplied by your anaesthetist. If you have any questions about your anaesthesia, please speak with your treating specialist.

Osteoarthritis is not uncommonly found in hips and knees, and patients undergoing hip or knee replacements are generally elderly. This means that a large proportion of hip or knee replacement patients have significant co-morbidity, with 40 per cent of those presenting for joint replacement being treated for high blood pressure or heart problems (Connolly D, State of the Art: Orthopaedic Anaesthesia, Anaesthesia 58: 1162-1203, 2003).

Many joint-replacement patients also have undiagnosed heart problems and will require further assessment and investigation. Most patients undergoing joint replacement will accept the risks involved because of the potential improvement in their quality of life.

Pain relief options aim to provide optimal pain relief while minimising side effects such as sedation, post-operative nausea and vomiting, and leg weakness (Grant C Checketts M, Analgesia for primary hip and arthroplasty: the role of regional anaesthesia. Continuing Education in Anaesthesia, Critical Care, % Pain, Vol 8(2), 56-61, 2008). Regional anaesthesia can achieve those aims.