The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has issued a warning regarding the potential complications that may arise during surgery when using Ozempic and similar drugs.
These medications, including Ozempic and Wegovy, contain semaglutide and liraglutide as active ingredients. Known as GLP-1 receptor agonists, these drugs can slow down food digestion if taken over a prolonged period.
The ASA expressed concerns about delayed gastric emptying caused by GLP-1 agonists, as it can increase the risk of regurgitation and aspiration of gastric contents during general anesthesia and deep sedation, based on recent anecdotal reports.
Dr. Michael Champeau, President of the ASA and adjunct clinical professor at Stanford University, explained that the aspiration of food from the stomach into the lungs has been a significant safety concern for anesthesiologists for many years. This is why it is crucial for patients to fast before surgery to ensure their stomachs are empty.
However, it is not necessary for patients to completely discontinue the medication. Often, skipping a dose is sufficient. The ASA recommends patients to withhold these drugs either on the day before or the day of the procedure. For patients on weekly dosing, it is advised to refrain from taking the medication for a week.
It is important to note that these guidelines apply to elective procedures and not emergency situations. In urgent or emergent cases, the patient should be treated as if they have a full stomach and managed accordingly, as stated by the ASA.
The ASA’s decision to address this issue came about as they received frequent reports from anesthesiologists about patients who adhered to the fasting requirement but still experienced pre-surgery vomiting or had food in their stomachs during a procedure.
Since GLP-1 agonists are relatively new, there is a lack of studies on the duration it takes for the stomach to empty after taking these medications. Dr. Champeau emphasized that more scientific research could provide more precise guidance in various areas.
Ozempic is an MHRA-approved medication for individuals with type 2 diabetes in the UK. It is administered via injection in the thigh, stomach, or arm. However, recently these drugs, including Ozempic, have gained popularity among non-diabetic individuals as a means of quick weight loss.
Nevertheless, Ozempic has also faced scrutiny in Europe. Following reports of suicidal thoughts and self-harm among users, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has initiated a review of the manufacturer, Danish company Novo Nordisk.
Novo Nordisk stated that patient safety is their top priority, and they take all reports of adverse events associated with their medicines seriously.
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