Background

Cannabis use is associated with higher intravenous anesthetic administration. Similar data regarding inhalational anesthetics are limited. With rising cannabis use prevalence, understanding any potential relationship with inhalational anesthetic dosing is crucial. We compared average intraoperative isoflurane/sevoflurane minimum alveolar concentration equivalents between older adults with and without cannabis use.

Methods

The electronic health records of 22,476 surgical patients ≥65 years old at the University of Florida Health System between 2018-2020 were reviewed. The primary exposure was cannabis use within 60 days of surgery, determined via i) a previously published natural language processing algorithm applied to unstructured notes and ii) structured data, including International Classification of Disease codes for cannabis use disorders and poisoning by cannabis, laboratory cannabinoids screening results, and RxNorm codes. The primary outcome was the intraoperative time-weighted average of isoflurane/sevoflurane minimum alveolar concentration equivalents at one-minute resolution. No a priori minimally clinically important difference was established. Patients demonstrating cannabis use were matched 4:1 to non-cannabis use controls using a propensity score.

Results

Among 5,118 meeting inclusion criteria, 1,340 patients (268 cannabis users and 1,072 nonusers) remained after propensity score matching. The median and interquartile range (IQR) age was 69 (67, 73) years; 872 (65.0%) were male, and 1,143 (85.3%) were non-Hispanic White. The median (IQR) anesthesia duration was 175 (118, 268) minutes. After matching, all baseline characteristics were well-balanced by exposure. Cannabis users had statistically significantly higher average minimum alveolar concentrations than nonusers [mean±SD: 0.58±0.23 versus 0.54±0.22, respectively; mean difference=0.04; 95% confidence limits, 0.01 to 0.06; p=0.020].

Conclusion

Cannabis use was associated with administering statistically significantly higher inhalational anesthetic minimum alveolar concentration equivalents in older adults, but the clinical significance of this difference is unclear. These data do not support the hypothesis that cannabis users require clinically meaningfully higher inhalational anesthetics doses.

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