NOV 18, 2022 10:00 AM PST

Cannabis Users Have Worse Bypass Outcomes, Increased Risk of Amputation

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

Lower extremity bypass surgery is a common procedure used to address occluded arteries in the leg, usually with the goal of reducing pain and, hopefully, preventing the need for leg amputation. Bypass involves the use of another vein (or an artificial one) to re-route blood from a blocked vein, allowing for more normal blood flow in the legs.

In most cases, lower extremity bypass surgery is a fairly effective procedure with a low risk of complications and a fairly consistent rate of long-term success. However, a new study highlights those complications are more likely to occur in certain groups of people. A team of researchers at the University of Michigan-Michigan Medicine found that cannabis use prior to a lower extremity bypass surgery can have a negative effect on patient outcomes, including increasing the risk of amputation. Their work is described in a recent article published in Annals of Vascular Surgery.

In the study, researchers analyzed over 11,000 cases of patients receiving lower extremity bypass pulled from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Cardiovascular Consortium to study the effects of cannabis use on patient outcomes. They specifically looked at how patient outcome were affected at 30 days and one-year post-procedure.

Overall, researchers found that patients who used cannabis prior to their procedure were more likely to experience a blockage or occlusion in the grafted artery, and were also more likely to need amputation of a lower limb at about one year compared to those who did not use cannabis prior to the procedure. Researchers also highlighted that opioid use after the procedure was more likely in people who used cannabis.

Poorer outcomes in cannabis users may be associated with the effects that the active compounds in cannabis have on things like platelet function. Researchers suggest that their findings highlight a need for discussions between health care providers and patients prior to lower extremity bypass surgery, as well as a need for potential screening prior to surgery.

Sources: Science Daily; Annals of Vascular Surgery

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
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