I know that sometimes surgeries need to happen at unexpected times to address emergencies. But whenever possible, you should try to schedule surgery far enough in advance so that you have adequate time to prepare - and so that you can have the surgery at an optimal time. Here's why this is so important.
Research conducted through the University of Michigan Health System and recently published in the journal Neurosurgery evaluated nearly 16,000 patients who underwent neurosurgical procedures between the years 2007 and 2014. In these procedures, 785 complications were reported by the neurosurgeons.
The researchers evaluated the procedures to see if they could find any patterns in when the complications arose, and they found something startling: procedures that began between 9:00 pm and 7:00 am were more than 50% more likely to involve complications than procedures that began during the day. In fact, the later the surgery began, the more likely it was to involve a complication. And emergency and elective surgeries were equally likely to involve complications - the only difference was the complications tended to be more severe in emergency situations.
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It's not surprising that such complications are occurring. Doctors are people too, and working outside normal business hours is taxing. So if you need surgery, it's definitely worth scheduling it for early in the day, when the doctor is fresh and rested. Just make sure you confirm you're not actually scheduling the last time slot after a night shift.
What should you do if you have an emergency? The researchers plan to investigate whether it's worthwhile to simply stabilize patients if emergencies occur at non-ideal times and put off the surgery until daylight hours. This option may be worth discussing with your doctor if you do have an emergency.
For non-emergency surgery, there are a few things I want you to do to maximize your outcome and minimize your risk of complications. First, try to schedule your doctor's first surgery of the day so that he or she is rested and prepared. Second, follow my pre-surgery precondition protocol. I've written about this in more detail before, but here are the basics: You want to spend the weeks leading up to your treatment receiving ozone therapy, if it all possible. Multiple studies have found that preconditioning with ozone improves outcomes and reduces complications. I recommend a process called major auto-hemotherapy (MAH) twice a week for three weeks before the surgery. You can find a doctor trained in MAH by visiting the website for the American Academy of Ozonotherapy, www.aaot.us.
If there isn't a MAH-trained doctor near you, I have good news. It's possible to get your own ozone machine and precondition yourself at home. Check the archives for more details on this. You can use ozone therapy even if you don't have a surgery scheduled, which will prepare your body in the event you do have to have an emergency surgery at an inopportune time. It could save your life.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD