Cataract surgery is one of the most common operations performed by the NHS. The resources required for the provision of these cataract services can be reduced by increasing the proportion of operations conducted under local anaesthesia (LA). This local service appraisal updates and augments the literature concerning anaesthetic choice for cataract surgery and indicates the factors locally influencing anaesthetic selection. This information was extracted from the theatre records of the 8566 cataract operations performed at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary in 2011. Of these 247 (2.9%) operations were found to be conducted under general anaesthesia (GA) and a sample of 46 of these cases were further examined to find the indication for GA. In 29 (63%) cases GA was selected despite no documented clinical contraindications of LA. These findings imply that the proportion of cataract operations performed under GA in a large tertiary centre could be reduced, thereby reducing the cost of service provision.
Keywords: phacoemulsification, cataract, local anaesthesia, general anaesthesia