Paragon Press – June 2015

Can My Medications Hurt Me During Surgery?

If you have had surgery, you more than likely were told not to eat or drink after midnight the night before surgery, except for one or two medications taken with a small sip of water in the morning. The surgeon needs to know exactly what you are taking to know what pills are vital to your health and those that cannot be skipped. Wait…there are more reasons to be very thorough when making that list. Read about these commonly used medications to understand more fully how they impact your body during surgery.When you go in for a healthcare-related appointment, you usually fill out paperwork listing all your medications. You might not be very careful to list every single last one, but did you know it is crucial to list every prescribed and unprescribed medicine when you go in for orthopedic surgery? Your surgeon needs to know each drug you take, its dosage, and what it does for you in order for your surgery to have the best outcome possible. Your primary care physician should be able to give you a complete list of prescription medications to take to your surgeon, and don’t forget about anything bought over the counter that you take.

DID YOU KNOW? Nearly 70% of Americans are prescribed at least one medication.

Blood Pressure Medications: These are usually continued the day of surgery to maintain your regulated blood pressure. If your medication and blood pressure have not been stabilized prior to surgery, it could mean a delay for your procedure. A stable blood pressure is a must before undergoing any surgical procedure.

Diabetic Medications: Because the stress of surgery can lead to higher blood glucose levels, your insulin might need to be adjusted for surgery. Some oral diabetic medications may need to be stopped before you are given anesthesia.

Blood Thinners: In most case, these need to be stopped 5-7 days prior to surgery. Your surgeon will let you know how soon to stop taking them and when to resume them. The reason for this is thinners cause extra bleeding that could cause swelling or an infection at your surgical site.

Steroid Medications: To maintain your body’s steroid levels, which are important for blood pressure regulation, these are usually continued the day of surgery. If your steroid level drops, it could lead to low blood pressure problems during surgery. This is dependent on what levels of steroids you take, so be specific about your dosage with your surgeon.

Heart Medications: These are normally continued the morning of surgery, taken as usual. A thorough heart history is necessary before surgery. Sometimes, additional heart medicines, called beta blockers, are added to decrease the risk of any heart problems during surgery.

Dietary Supplements: Some over-the-counter supplements can interfere with medications necessary for your surgery. Other over the counter substances can cause surgical bleeding. Taking them can lead to complications, so be thorough about reporting them all.

Immunosuppressant Medications: If you are a transplant patient, or have an inflammatory condition, such as arthritis, the immunosuppressants you might be taking could significantly slow wound healing after surgery. Have a discussion with your surgeon about temporarily stopping these.

Understanding the impact of medications on your body’s processes gives more insight into your surgeon’s need to know in advance. Always be detailed about anything you are taking for the best surgical outcome.

The following articles were referenced in making this newsletter:

Preparing for surgery, medication checklist; why the surgeon needs to know about them