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What are the risks of general anesthesia after a stroke?

3 answers | Last updated: Dec 21, 2014
An anonymous caregiver asked...
My mother had a hemorrhagic stroke last year and has been doing well ever since. The problem is that she needs a hip replacement. The surgeon says it's too risky, but her quality of life would be so much better with a new hip. Is her risk of stroke or other complications under anesthesia significantly greater? And even if she can't have a hip replacement, what if she needs emergency surgery for something else?

Caring.com User - James Castle, M.D.
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James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.
94% helpful

Usually general anesthesia poses little risk to patients who have suffered hemorrhagic strokes, which are most commonly caused by elevated blood pressure or abnormal blood vessels. Unless your mother's surgery See also:
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requires that she not take blood pressure medicines beforehand, general anesthesia would be very unlikely to cause a dangerous rise in her blood pressure.

The same is not true, however, for patients with a history of an ischemic stroke (generally caused by a blood clot blocking an artery). There are three reasons for this. First, before most procedures the surgeon asks patients to stop their blood thinning medicines for fear of bleeding during the surgery. Therefore, there's a window of time during which the patient has a higher tendency to clot and have a stroke. Second, patients with ischemic strokes often have significant stenosis (narrowing) of their arteries, and these can become symptomatic when the blood pressure drops during general anesthesia. Third, if the operation involves manipulation of an artery, a cholesterol plaque could become unstable and cause a stroke, although this is not an issue during a hip replacement.


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kristaq answered...

Hello doctor Castle. My mother had an ischemic stroke last august. She's recovered fully but she must undergo breast cyst removal surgery in a week. I read in your previous post that, in such cases, surgery carries some risk. What are the risks for this particular case and what can be done to minimize them? Thanx in advance for your answer!


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Emily M. answered...

Hi kristaq, that's a great question! If you'd like you can post your very own question in our Ask & Answer section here: ( https://www.caring.com/ask ). Take care! -- Emily | Community Manager


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