- Patients are asked to disclose any medications, including
herbal supplements, they are taking prior to undergoing surgery
- ATLANTA (CNN) -- Anesthesiologists
are concerned that patients undergoing surgery may risk unexpected bleeding
and difficulty in blood clotting when they take ginseng, gingko biloba
and other herbs within two weeks of their operations.
- The familiar question before surgery, "Are you taking
any medications?" should be augmented with: "Are you taking any
herbal remedies?" suggests <male.doc.jpgDr. John Neeldt, president
of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
- Although no scientific studies have been completed to
prove a link between use of herbs and complications during anesthesia,
there have been anecdotal reports.
- Neeldt said reports circulate among anesthesiologists
of "adverse responses to blood pressure and pulse -- unexpectedly
brisk bleeding and not clotting well in patients who were taking these
- Feverfew, ginseng, gingko biloba, ginger, ephedra and
garlic may adversely affect bleeding and blood pressure, according to Dr.
Jessie Leak, an anesthesiologist with the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in
- St. John's wort, valerian and kava kava may prolong the
effects of some anesthetics and impair awakening from anesthesia, said
Leak, who has been investigating the potential complications that could
arise from specific herbal products.
- "Ultimately, the responsibility does fall upon the
patient to let us know what you are taking," Leak said. "Certainly,
if we ask and you fail to tell us, then ... your safety may be compromised."
- To increase awareness of these concerns, the American
Society of Anesthesiologists is distributing educational brochures to doctors
and patients. A spokesperson for the American Herbal Products Association
said patients should inform their physicians of herbal use.
- CNN Medical Correspondent Rhonda Rowland contributed
to this report.
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