The impact of cannabis on surgical patients is uncertain

The impact of recreational cannabinoids on peri-operative outcomes

In Summary

A recent op-ed from a plastic surgeon discusses the uncertainty of how recreational cannabis effects peri-operative outcomes. Recreational cannabis does not always follow the same standardization requirements as medical cannabis depending on state laws. Multiple studies have reported their findings from patients who have reported using cannabis before their surgery but as peri-operative screening for cannabis is not routine and stigma prevents many from self-reporting, data is uncertain. Cannabis has been shown to affect anesthesia, post-operative hemostasis, drug metabolism, and pain control. Further research is needed to provide definitive evidence for the exact effect of cannabis on peri-operative outcomes. 

This study highlights the need for inclusion of self-reported cannabis use on national databases so larger studies are able to analyze the impact of cannabis on surgical outcomes, but also general patient outcomes. The stigma surrounding recreational cannabis use should be removed, not necessarily for legalization, but to provide researchers an way around national legalization. Allowing naturalistic studies where statisticians can find trends among recreational cannabis use and healthcare would provide a cost-efficient way to support research without federal funding. Removing stigma will help provide researchers the tools to further our knowledge so that we can better treat those using cannabis. 

The study is available for review or download here

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Benjamin Caplan, MDThe impact of cannabis on surgical patients is uncertain
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