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Lyme Disease and Anesthesia: Five Facts

  • Jan 8, 2018

For Immediate Release: January 8, 2018
For more information, contact: AANA Public Relations

Most people never think of the possibility that anesthesia could affect patients who have Lyme disease, but it can.

Park Ridge, Illinois—An article in the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)’s AANA Journal, “Lyme Disease and Anesthesia Considerations,” discusses possible effects of anesthesia on Lyme disease patients undergoing surgery. Here are some important facts to know:

  • In the pre-operative assessment interview, patients should let their anesthesia professional know if they have been in an area where there is a risk of contracting Lyme disease, such as hiking areas where ticks are present. Patients who know they have Lyme disease should discuss the choice of anesthetic with their anesthesia provider.
  • General anesthesia may suppress the immune system. Volatile anesthetic agents may affect the functioning of white blood cells in combatting disease.
  • Patients with “systemic infections” (those that affect the entire body) such as Lyme disease may need to be cautious with spinal or epidural anesthesia, as they may introduce infective agents into the central nervous system. This can be especially important in the early stages of the disease when there may not yet be signs of central nervous system involvement.
  • Since 2005, 20,000-30,000 confirmed infections are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year.
  • Of the diseases required by law to be reported to government authorities, Lyme disease is the fifth most common nationally. Lyme disease is also the most commonly reported infection transferred from one living organism to another in the U.S.

Each disease or health condition has its considerations for anesthesia and surgery. Patients are encouraged to speak freely with their anesthesia provider to ensure that all health considerations are included in the anesthesia plan. Telling the anesthesia provider about allergies, health conditions, complementary or alternative drug use, prescription and illicit drug or alcohol misuse helps to keep the patient safe throughout surgery.

About the AANA Journal
The AANA Journal is the official scholarly journal of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). The AANA Journal is available online to the public, free of charge, immediately upon publication of the print version, at www.aana.com/aanajournalonline.

About the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

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