Guidelines: Patients Should Be Screened for Cannabis Use Before Surgery

All patients undergoing procedures requiring anesthesia should be asked about cannabis use, according to the guidelines released by the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA Pain Medicine).

ASRA says that regular use of cannabis may worsen pain and nausea after surgery and increase the need for opioids.

According to the guidelines, anesthesiologists should ask patients about the type of cannabis product, how it was used, the amount of the product, how recently it was used, and the frequency of cannabis use.

Anesthesiologists should be prepared to change the anesthesia plan or delay the procedure in the case of cannabis use,

“Even though some people use cannabis therapeutically to help relieve pain, studies have shown regular users may have more pain and nausea after surgery, not less, and may need more medications, including opioids, to manage the discomfort. We hope the guidelines will serve as roadmap to help better care for patients who use cannabis and need surgery,” said Samer Narouze, MD, PhD, senior author and ASRA Pain Medicine president.

The guidelines address the increasing use of cannabis and the concern that it can potentially interact with anesthesia and lead to complications.

A study by the Monitoring the Future panel found that marijuana use among young adults reached an all-time high in 2021. In the survey, 43% of respondents aged 19 to 30 reported past-year marijuana use, compared to 34% in 2016.


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