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Porphyria Educational Services

Vol. 1 No. 37                                   September 8, 1999
FOCUS:  Anesthesia and the Porphyric

Anesthesia is generally used when a perosn undergoes surgery.
However there is always questions when it comes to a porphyric
patient undergoing surgery and what, if any anesthesia may be used.

Provided appropriate precautions are taken, most patients with
the acute types of porphyria can tolerate surgery and general anaesthesia. In a
document published by one leading porphyria researcher, he makes reference
to porphyria patients who experience frequent attacks of porphyria as being
at risk of developing complications.  He cautions that  the indications for
surgery should be carefully examined.

Extreme care must always be taken in selecting safe anaesthetic agents.
Versed [Midzalom] has been found to work especially well for inducing sleep
without side effects.  Fentanyl for pain control is another 'tried and true' drug.

And because fasting is prohibitive in porphyrics when planning a
surgery, adequate iv parental feeding must be set in place. To prevent an
attack being induced by fasting, an intravenous infusion of dextrose should
be started prior to surgery, and continued until the patient can eat properly.