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Weight loss drugs linked to residual stomach content before anesthesia

A study found over half of patients on drugs like Ozempic held significant gastric contents, increasing potential for aspiration under anesthesia.
Weight loss drugs linked to residual stomach content before anesthesia
Posted at 7:32 PM, Mar 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-06 21:32:42-05

A new study is shining light on the potentially negative effects of GLP-1 agonist drugs used for diabetes management, and sometimes weight loss. The study data from the University of Texas in Houston and published in the JAMA Surgery medical journal found that over half of patients on the medications still had significant stomach content before anesthesia, even after properly following fasting protocols beforehand. 

The findings are important because medical professionals worry about the increased potential for aspiration during anesthesia. 

Last year an anesthesiologist group urged patients to stop taking Ozempic before surgery in guidance published by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. The latest study appears to reveal even more data supporting that guidance. 

The study authors said the findings were "quite surprising," writing that the stomach contents in patients who took the GLP-1 agonist drugs were significantly higher than those who did not take them. 

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A specialized point-of-care ultrasound was used to assess and discover the gastric contents before patients underwent anesthesia. 

The study looked at over 120 patients who were scheduled for elective procedures between June and July of last year, which was right around the time that the American Society of Anesthesiologists issued their guidance. 

Now, experts are reexamining fasting times for patients on these drugs, indicating they could require longer fasting times before anesthesia.

Dr. Sudipta Sen, a study author, said, "Patients must ensure they disclose their use of this medication to their surgeons and anesthesiologists."

Dr. Sen said, "This information is crucial for us to provide appropriate recommendations."

The study is expected to lead to serious updates to preoperative protocols. 


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