Scientists Find a Connection Between Cannabis Use by Patients and How Well They Recover Post Surgery

By: | March 6th, 2023

U.S. federal law prohibits the use of marijuana. However, many states allow medical use of cannabis to treat many medical conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, depression, pain management, PTSD, etc.

However, there is insufficient data to support either the efficacy or safety of cannabis use in patients who undergo surgery or interventional procedures.

Now, according to a first-of-its-kind study led by anaesthesiologists at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, there is a connection between cannabis use by patients and how well they recover from surgery.

Researchers analyzed data from 210,639 patients who underwent non-cardiac surgery in Boston between 2008 and 2020. Patients were differentiated into those who used cannabis prior to surgery, non-medical cannabis users, and those with a diagnosis of cannabis use disorder.

Based on their analysis, researchers hypothesized that patients with a diagnosed cannabis use disorder would be more likely to require higher levels of healthcare after surgery than non-cannabis users.  Interestingly, cannabis users other than those diagnosed with cannabis use disorder had lower odds of needing advanced care after surgery in comparison to the patients who had never used cannabis.

“As these comorbidities have been associated with increased complications including arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death after anesthesia, a history of cannabis use disorder might serve as an indicator of potentially complicating factor for patients undergoing anesthesia that in turn contribute to the requirement of higher-level health care utilization after surgery,” corresponding author Maximillian S. Schaefer, Director of the Center for Anesthesia Research Excellence at BIDMC.

“We hope our data helps make clinicians aware of how different patterns of cannabis use might represent different patient populations, which in turn translates into distinct perioperative risk profiles,” he added.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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