Marijuana Directly Impacts Levels of Anesthesia Required for Surgery

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A new study suggests that regular users of Marijuana may need higher levels of anesthesia, after researchers review the records of 250 patients who underwent surgical procedures. The study, published in the Annals of the American Osteopathic Association, found that patients who used marijuana regularly required more than twice the amount of propofol, a powerful anesthetic often used in surgical procedures.

Dr. Mark Twardowski, lead author of the study and a specialist in internal medicine claims that while marijuana is legal in many states, it is still a poorly studied substance. These findings are prompting scientists to wonder what others effects marijuana can have on other medications a patient may be using.

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Twardowski got the idea for this study after noticing that many of his patients required higher levels of sedation if they regularly consumed marijuana. He and his colleagues went on to review the records of 250 patients who underwent simple surgical procedures that required mild anesthesia. Of the 25 patients that were found to use marijuana, each had an elevated amount of anesthetic in their system to reach the right level of anesthesia when compared to non-marijuana users.

These findings have made Twardowski emphasize the importance of patients’ disclosure of marijuana use, as it can make a serious impact into the level of sedation required to perform a surgery. However, even then, there is a risk that increasing these types of anesthetic medications might push “the danger of shutting off a patient’s respiration – while still not achieving pain control.”

Due to marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug among the likes of heroin, it has been difficult for researchers to properly study the drug’s effects on the human body. With these findings, scientists understand that it is prudent to conduct more extensive research into marijuana, considering that it is now a legal recreational substance in more than 10 states.

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