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Anesthesia and Surgery


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You may need to have a surgical procedure at some time in your life. MS is generally not a reason to avoid having surgery as your risks of a surgical procedure are no different than the risks to someone who does not have MS. Anesthesia, given to reduce awareness and sensation during surgery, is safe for people with MS. The risk of relapse is not increased because of surgery or exposure to anesthesia.


Generally, in the absence of complications, people with MS who undergo surgery do not find that it impacts their neurologic status. There is no evidence that the stress of surgery will bring on an exacerbation of MS. Infection or fever, however, may tend to aggravate symptoms of MS. Additionally, patients who have muscle weakness and who have been confined to bed for more than several days, may find it harder to recover from surgery. Physical therapy is often useful in these instances and, when needed, should be started as soon after surgery as recommended by a healthcare provider.


Anesthesia is the use of medications during procedures to reduce awareness and sensation. The risks of anesthesia for people with MS are about the same as those who do not have MS. The exceptions to this primarily involve the small percentage of people with advanced MS who may have respiratory problems that would put them at greater risk for complications.

There are four broad categories of anesthesia given to patients.

  • General anesthesia- medications that put you in a sleep-like (unconscious) state to reduce your awareness and sensation during a procedure and also block your memory of the procedure
  • Regional anesthesia- medications that are used to block sensation in a particular region of the body, injected around a single nerve or network or nerves, such as epidural anesthesia, which is injected into spinal fluid to numb the lower body
  • Local anesthesia- medications that are used to reduce sensation in a specific part of the body, such as around a tooth for a dental procedure
  • Conscious sedation- medications that reduce your level of consciousness to minimize pain and discomfort
Risks Among Women with MS During Labor and Delivery
All forms of anesthesia are considered safe for women with MS; anesthesia management does not need to be altered.


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