What to halt prior to surgery, lab tests
What are the best instructions to follow if you have a surgery scheduled?
The most common inquiry is this: Do I really need to stop all my medications before this test or surgery?
This question isn’t easy to answer because some medications are needed for comfort and well-being. For example, what if you are reliant on your morning pill for acid reflux? You can safely stop it abruptly, but if you don’t take it, you will be very uncomfortable.
Another example is with analgesics like tramadol, oxycodone and morphine. You can’t just suddenly stop those, or you’ll slip into withdrawal pretty quickly! Ask your doctor if you’re allowed to take those two medications on the morning of your procedure.
You also cannot suddenly stop an anti-depressant or anti-epileptic drug. These and many other medications require slow tapering to get off safely. If you were to suddenly discontinue certain drugs, you could encounter dangerous withdrawal symptoms, even seizures.
Ask well before your surgery, so you don’t have to reschedule due to this type of oversight.
Beware blood thinners
Blood thinners are the most dangerous ones to remain on if you’re having surgery or some procedure that requires an IV drip or a blood draw, like a colonoscopy.
You do not want your blood to be super thin when you go in for these procedures, or the bleeding could become profuse or internalized. So, for sure you do not want to be on any of these blood thinning drugs for at least three days prior to some tests: anticoagulants, Warfarin (Coumadin), Enoxaparin, Clopidogrel, Ticlopidine, aspirin, Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs and Dipyridamole.
Another category of medications that people don’t usually warn about, but I feel should be included in this conversation, are drugs that slow down your heart rate. I’m referring to beta blockers and calcium channel blockers.
Anesthesia also slows down your heart rate, and the combo could lead to severe bradycardia (low heart rate).
What about food and drink?
Another important question is, “Should I really stop eating and drinking before a test?”
The general answer is yes. If the facility or hospital puts that request on your instruction sheet, you should follow it. Eating and drinking too close to surgery could force a reschedule of the surgery. The worry is aspiration.
As for other tests, it becomes less clear. For example, if you are scheduled to have a pelvic ultrasound to see your cervix or ovaries, I’m not sure why food would be a problem.
And likewise, I do not understand the need for “no food or drink” if you’re having a thyroid blood test. You probably should eat before that type of test. The results will be more realistic.
This information is opinion only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using any new drug or supplement.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist and Real Solutions from Head to Toe. To contact her, visit SuzyCohen.com.