Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is usually performed successfully with or without a tourniquet and under spinal anesthesia (SA) or general anesthesia (GA). However, 10% to 34% of patients experience dissatisfaction and pain after TKA. We aimed to compare the effects of tourniquet use and SA or GA on TKA outcomes.
We randomly assigned 404 patients to 4 study groups: SA without a tourniquet (NT/SA), SA with a tourniquet (T/SA), GA without a tourniquet (NT/GA), and GA with a tourniquet (T/GA). The primary outcome was the change in the Oxford Knee Score (OKS) at 1 year postoperatively. Secondary outcomes included a satisfactory TKA outcome assessed using the OKS minimal important change (MIC) and OKS patient acceptable symptom state (PASS), adverse events, and quality of life using the 15-dimensional health-related quality of life tool.
At 1 year, the OKS was obtained for 381 patients. In the 2-group comparisons, the tourniquet did not affect the OKS improvement. The SA group had more substantial improvement in the OKS than the GA group (16.21 compared with 14.08 a mean difference of 2.13; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.55 to 3.71; p = 0.008). In the 4-group comparisons, the T/SA group had more substantial improvements in the OKS than the NT/GA group (16.87 compared with 13.65, a mean difference of 3.2; 95% CI, 0.28 to 6.17; p = 0.026). The SA group reached the OKS MIC more frequently than the GA group (91.7% compared with 81.7%; odds ratio [OR] = 2.49 [95% CI, 1.32 to 4.69]; p = 0.005). The SA group also reached the OKS PASS more frequently than the GA group (86.0% compared with 75.7%; OR = 2.00 [95% CI, 1.18 to 3.39]; p = 0.010). The T/SA group had significantly more patients reaching the OKS MIC than the NT/GA group (95.7% compared with 79.6%; p = 0.005) and more patients reaching the OKS PASS than the NT/GA group (92.6% compared with 74.5%; p = 0.004). No differences were seen with respect to adverse events in any comparisons.
The tourniquet had no detrimental effects on the outcomes of TKA. SA had a positive effect on the OKS. The use of SA combined with a tourniquet resulted in the best improvement in OKS and the highest proportion of satisfactory outcomes with TKA.
Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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