Regular cannabis users may require more anesthesia before procedures

A growing body of research and anecdotal reports indicate people who regularly use cannabis require more anesthesia during medical procedures. The challenge is getting patients to be honest about their use, experts told The Wall Street Journal in a Feb. 7 report

The news outlet cited several studies suggesting regular users require more anesthesia during procedures to remain sedated. One study from 2019 involved 250 patients who underwent an endoscopy. Of that group, the 25 patients who reported they were cannabis users required a greater dose of anesthesia than nonusers, according to the findings published in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. 

"It's incredibly important to disclose your cannabis use to your anesthesiologist," Staci Gruber, PhD, director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., told the publication. 

Julius Hyatt, DDS, an oral surgeon at the Maryland Center for Oral Surgery and Dental Implants in Cockeysville, said he's noticed that patients who are regular cannabis users, meaning they use it on most days than not, need two to three times the normal amount of anesthetic propofol to remain sedated. 

Patients are often hesitant to self-disclose as "regular users" of cannabis, though being transparent about how it may affect the amount of anesthetic or pain medicine patients will require can help. 

"When you say that, they become truthful very quickly," Jeffrey Galinkin, MD, chairman of perioperative services and anesthesia at The Medical Center of Aurora (Colo.), told the news outlet. 

In January, the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine released guidelines recommending hospitals universally screen patients for cannabis use prior to surgery. 

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