Does anesthesia, invasive surgery increase Multiple Sclerosis relapse risk?

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Does anesthesia, invasive surgery increase Multiple Sclerosis relapse risk?

Hesitation to put MS patients on the operating table, due to relapse risk, may have physicians delaying important surgeries unnecessarily.

A recent Multiple Sclerosis Journal study that included data from 281 patients and 609 surgeries suggests post-operative MS relapse risk does not significantly differ from pre-operative relapse risk.

No prior studies have systematically investigated the influence of surgery or anesthesia administration on relapse risk, but it’s a large concern in clinical practice.

This concern greatly impacts clinical decision making. These decisions, like neurology consultations for pre-operative clearance, can delay important surgeries, potentially unnecessarily.

Lindsey De Lott, M.D., assistant professor of neurology and first author of the manuscript, says she hopes this research gives physicians and patients the confidence in moving forward in the procedural decision making process.

“The idea that patients with MS might be at an increased risk of relapse following surgery isn’t necessarily the case, so we need to be careful delaying important surgeries,” says De Lott.

De Lott and senior author Tiffany Braley, M.D., M.S., associate professor of neurology and multiple sclerosis specialist, hypothesized that In the absence of post-operative complications, anesthesia exposure or surgery would not trigger functional decline or symptom recurrence.

Braley says the “vast majority” of her patients do well after surgery without evidence of relapse. So where do these concerns come from?

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