To identify the growth in the number of anesthetic procedures since 1980 and the changes in the practice of anesthesia, the present survey was designed to collect and analyze the anesthetic activity performed in France in 1996, from a representative sample collected in all French hospitals and clinics.
This study, initiated by the French Society of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, collected information that included the characteristics of patients (age, sex, American Society of Anesthesiologists status), the techniques of anesthesia, and the nature of the procedure for which anesthesia was required. All French private, public, and military hospitals were asked to participate in the survey. In each hospital in the country, all anesthetic procedures were documented and collected during 3 consecutive days, chosen at random during a 12-month period, to obtain a representative sample of the annual activity. All data were analyzed at the INSERM (National Institute of Health and MEDICAL RESEARCH: At the conclusion of the study, 5% of hospitals were randomly assigned to be audited to check for missing data and errors. The rate of anesthetic activity was calculated as the ratio between the annual number of anesthetic procedures and the number of the general population in the same age group.
The participation rate of hospitals was 98%. The analysis of the 62,415 collected questionnaires allowed extrapolation of the anesthetic activity to 7,937,000 anesthetic procedures (95% confidence interval, +/- 387,000) performed in France in 1996. Thus, the annual rate of anesthetic procedures was 13.5 per 100 population, varying between 5.4 per 100 in girls aged 5-14 yr and 30.2 per 100 in men aged 75-84 yr. Surgery was involved in 71% of anesthesia cases. Regional anesthesia alone was performed in 20% of all surgical cases and was combined with general anesthesia in 3% of additional cases. Anesthesia for obstetric procedures represented 9% of all cases. Seventy-six percent of all anesthetic procedures started between 12:00 A.M. and 7:00 A.M. were related to obstetric activities.
In comparison with a previous study, the present survey shows that the number of anesthetic procedures has increased by 120% since 1980, and the rate of anesthetic procedures increased from 6.6 to 13.5 per 100 population, the major changes being observed in patients aged > or = 75 yr and in those with an American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status of 3. In the same time period, the number of regional anesthetic procedures increased 14-fold. In obstetrics, the practice of epidural analgesia extended from 1.5% to 51% of all deliveries of the country.