Caffeine, surgery can mix, doctor says

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Doctors, listen to your patients and nurses. You can learn something.
Take Dr. Joseph Weber, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist. He listened, checked out what they told him, and came up with welcome news for coffee, tea and cola drinkers: One 8-ounce cup on the day of surgery is not just OK, but can be beneficial.
“I’d like to claim that I was some sort of genius and thought it all up,” said Weber, “but patients kept telling me and my co-workers, ‘If you’d just let me have a caffeinated beverage afterward, I’d feel a lot better.'”
“And nurses said, `We know patients are sitting around having headaches. We ask if they drink coffee every day. They say, `Yeah!’ and we give them a cup of coffee and they perk right up.'”
Weber designed a series of studies to check out what he was hearing: Were patients who consumed a daily dose of coffee, tea or cola — or, for that matter, Mr. Pibb or Mountain Dew — more likely to get headaches after surgery? Would a small drink before surgery hurt them? Would it help afterward? What about intravenous caffeine?
He presented findings from the studies — conducted at Mayo Clinics in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Rochester, Minn., — to the American Society of Anesthesiologists on Wednesday, the last day of its meeting.
“This isn’t a life or death issue. But we’re talking about millions of people who can be improved with a relatively simple and safe intervention,” Weber said.
He said 80 percent of all U.S. residents drink something with caffeine in it every day. It may be coffee (50 to 180 milligrams per 6-ounce cup), tea (11 to 60 mg), Jolt! cola (72 mg per 12-ounce glass), Coke (45.6) or Kick (31 mg).
His first study found that those people were more than twice as likely as most people to have headaches after surgery.
In general, 10 percent of all people come out of anesthesia with a headache. But Weber found that the chance rises to 25 percent for people deprived of their usual caffeine.
The second study found that 8 ounces of a clear caffeinated beverage two hours or more before surgery, on an otherwise empty stomach, does not appear to hurt anything. And, Weber said, it brought the chance of a headache back down to 10 percent.
His most recent study, of 234 patients in Arizona and Minnesota, found that either a cup of a caffeinated drink in the recovery room or a caffeine drip under anesthesia is just as effective.