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Does THC Have Any Effect On Patient Response to Anesthesia?

May 27, 2020 01:41 pm ET
Does THC Have Any Effect On Patient Response to Anesthesia?

Surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists are becoming pioneers in the way of understanding what cannabis consumption may do to patients who go into theatre under anesthesia. Observation and research have shown that cannabis use can affect the patients’ responses to anesthesia while being operated on as well as either helping or hindering recovery afterward, depending on cannabis use. Your health care professionals need to know about your cannabis consumption in order to provide you with the best possible care. 

THC Explained

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the most prominent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and even though many people consume cannabis for medicinal reasons, THC is likely to be present alongside cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) in varying quantities. THC has psychoactive properties which is what makes it popular for recreational consumption. This means that THC has an effect on the body but more specifically the brain, but would it have an effect on anesthesia too? Just like all the other cannabinoids, THC forms part of the reasons why cannabis as an effect on anesthesia. 

Do Consumers Require More Anesthesia?

There are still many questions left unanswered such as whether cannabis consumers would require more anesthesia as well as what regular consumption means for recovery after surgery. It is difficult for medical professionals and researchers to answer questions on the effect of cannabis anesthesia because of federal law limitations. As long as cannabis remains illegal under federal law, research and understanding of the effects will remain limited. 

However, two things are certain. Firstly, cannabis can have an effect on the type and amount of anesthesia administered. Secondly, cannabis can lead to an increased risk of complications, especially if your medical team is unprepared and unaware of your cannabis consumption. 

More than a million procedures involving anesthesia take place each year and those are only from the known cannabis consumers. In many states where cannabis is illegal, patients may be less likely to disclose their consumption, but medical professionals are urging patients to understand that the information is vital for providing safe care. Many medical professionals are trying to establish a stigma-free environment so that those patients will be more forthcoming for their own benefit. 

It’s Important To Be Transparent With Your Doctor

Medical professionals need to use the patient history of consumption in order to guide future procedures. One of the most concerning implications of anesthesia is related to acute intoxication.  Patients with this complication will display central nervous symptoms of acute cannabis intoxication and will require further assessment of escalating anxiety, paranoid, or psychosis. This requirement will be necessary because they can lead to a more violent emergence from anesthesia.  

Other complications of consuming cannabis containing THC is that cannabis-induced psychosis can occur and co-present with symptoms that could be mistaken for other conditions with similar symptoms. Some professionals are warning that cannabis consumption and aesthesia can lead to life-threatening events if patients aren’t forthcoming and if anesthesiologists aren’t familiar with cannabis pharmacologic interactions. 

More Research Is Needed To Discover THC’s Impact On Anesthesia

Hopefully, more research will continue to be done in order to provide us with more comprehensive and certain conclusions on the effects of cannabis (and its cannabinoids such as THC) on anesthesia. 

Withholding the information about your cannabis consumption can lead to complications during medical procedures, especially if it involves anesthesia. This is why it is important for you to give your physicians all the information in order for them to provide you with the safest and most pain-free procedure. Remember, physicians and medical professionals are NOT there to judge you, they’re there to help you- in the best way possible. 

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