July 5, 2023

ASA suggests patients stop popular weight loss medications before elective surgery

Editor's Note

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) announced on June 29 that patients taking any of the currently popular medications for weight loss or for the treatment of type 2 diabetes should withhold the medication prior to elective surgery to "reduce the risk of complications associated with anesthesia in adults and children."

Such announcement comes in the heels of the growing popularity of medications like Ozempic® (semaglutide), Trulicity® (dulaglutide), and other glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. "The medications are also used for weight loss, as they delay gastric (stomach) emptying, decreasing hunger and reducing how much people eat," ASA noted in its press release.

“While there is currently a lack of scientific data on how GLP-1 receptor agonists affect patients having surgery and interact with anesthesia, we’ve received anecdotal reports that the delay in stomach emptying could be associated with an increased risk of regurgitation and aspiration of food into the airways and lungs during general anesthesia and deep sedation. These complications can be serious, so we are providing guidance on when GLP-1 agonists should be stopped in advance of an elective procedure," said Michael W. Champeau, MD, FAAP, FASA, ASA president.


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