What are the Anesthesia Risks and Concerns with Lung Disease?

by | Aug 25, 2014 | COPD, Lung Disease

Two days ago Frank’s physician told him that the time had arrived where he could no longer put off total knee replacement. However, he still needed to be cleared for the surgery because of his other medical issues. Frank then started to worry, tossing and turning at night. Should he be concerned that his lung disease might prevent him from having the surgery that would most assuredly rid him of his chronic knee pain? Frank also wondered the following: What are the anesthesia risks and concerns with lung disease?

Anesthesia Risks and Concerns with Lung Disease

Anesthesia used during surgery can decrease respiration, and when lung disease is present, the effects are more significant. In addition, patients with diagnosed, but more so, undiagnosed lung disease present a special risk when it comes to pain control upon discharge. Pain medication, such as narcotics, can also lead to a decrease in respiration and might even trigger, though rare, sudden cardiac arrest. The proper management of surgical patients is of vital importance to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). It prompted the organization to develop clinical best practices and guidelines in order to decrease the incidence of complications, which include cautious use of medications, and monitoring the upper airway and breathing. Surgery, in and of itself, can have complications, especially lung complications in healthy individuals. And even more so when said surgery involves the lung, heart and abdomen. Prior to any surgery, it is important to undergo a screening process in order to determine benefits versus risks. If risks are identified pre-surgery, there is the distinct possibility of addressing them ahead of time and perhaps even avoiding their occurrence. Some of the risks and concerns with lung disease are the following:

  • Hospitalization due to lung disease that included ventilation to assist breathing.
  • Past and current smoking history.
  • Flare-ups from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that required a hospital stay.
  • Current lung infection.
  • Cough and presence of sputum.

Helping to Minimize Risk

Fortunately, it is possible to minimize surgical and anesthesia risks and concerns with lung disease. Some prevention methods are easy to follow and some take more determination.

  • Quit smoking: This is a sound practice whether you truly have lung disease or not. When you smoke, it limits the oxygen available to your lungs and body, as well as damages tissue. Check out these tips to help you quit smoking.
  • Treat lung disease: Whenever possible, treating lung disease will help minimize risk. Medications can help keep COPD flare-ups to a minimum, and increase ling function.
  • Eliminate infections: If you develop a lung infection, it will need to be treated before you are cleared for surgery. If bacterial in cause, antibiotics should eliminate but if viral, the infection will need to run its course.
  • Eat healthy and exercise regularly: Diet and exercise can help a body prepare for the stress of surgery and reduce the incidence of complications. And it is truly sound advice on so many fronts.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung disease and want to learn more about treatment options, please contact or call 888-745-6697 us today.

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