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The danger of marijuana. Cannabis use affects postoperative recovery, scientists say

The first study of its kind has uncovered the impact of cannabis use on postoperative recovery. The results are mixed.

In recent years, many US states have relaxed laws regarding the medical and non-medical use of cannabis, prompting ongoing research into the health effects of cannabis. Now, a first-of-its-kind study has found a link between different patterns of cannabis use by patients and how well they recover from surgery .

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After alcohol, cannabis is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States. As of November 2022, 21 states, two territories and the District of Columbia have adopted laws to regulate the non-medical use of cannabis by adults. Legislative changes in Massachusetts between 2012 and 2016 led to an increase in the prevalence of cannabis use among patients undergoing surgery.

There has been a lot of research on cannabis and its health effects, both negative and positive. Studies of non-surgical patients show that cannabis use increases the risk of psychiatric as well as adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. Research like this shows that chronic cannabis use can lead to higher levels of health care in general.

However, there is little evidence on how cannabis use affects postoperative patients and their postoperative recovery.

In a recent new study, a team of anesthesiologists at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BCMD) in Boston, Massachusetts hypothesized that cannabis users are more likely to require a higher level of care after surgery, including unscheduled intensive care hospitalizations, intensive care unit (ICU), readmission, or discharge to the emergency department.

The researchers examined de-identified data from 210,639 patients who underwent non-cardiac surgery between January 2008 and June 2020, and those diagnosed with a cannabis use disorder accounted for 13.4%.

Cannabis use disorder is a recognized mental health disorder, which is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSMMD-5) as “a problematic pattern of cannabis use resulting in clinically significant impairment or distress”. Simply put, people with a cannabis use disorder cannot stop using, despite the health, occupational, and social problems that drug use causes.

The researchers found that patients who used cannabis were generally more likely to have comorbid conditions such as substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and schizoaffective disorder. These patients were more often young males.

Patients with a cannabis use disorder were more likely to require extended postoperative care than those who did not use cannabis. In particular, a diagnosis of cannabis use disorder was associated with higher chances of readmission.

“A history of cannabis use disorder may serve as an indicator of potentially complicating factors for patients undergoing anesthesia, which in turn contribute to the need for a higher level of care seeking after surgery,” said Maximilian Schäfer, corresponding author of the study.

Interestingly, cannabis users who did not have a use disorder had a lower chance of needing extended care after surgery compared to patients who had never used cannabis. Moreover, such use was associated with shorter hospital stays for these patients compared to those who did not use cannabis.

“Our analysis showed that cannabis use is very common and increased significantly among patients undergoing surgery, reflecting trends in the general population. However, there was a different impact between patients with moderate non-medical cannabis use and patients with cannabis use disorder. on the use of medical care after the procedure,” the researchers said.

Future studies will provide information on differences in outcomes between patients who used non-medical cannabis and those diagnosed with a cannabis use disorder.

For medical professionals, the results of the study are informative. They reflect the rise in cannabis use in society following its widespread legalization and the increased likelihood that more patients who have had surgery will use cannabis. This information can be taken into account when assessing pre- and postoperative risk.

Focus previously wrote that scientists have found that cannabis can help combat climate change . It turned out that hemp plantations can absorb twice as much carbon dioxide as trees.

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