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Anesthesiology. 2000 Jul;93(1):148-51.

Alternative medicine use in presurgical patients.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Erratum in

  • Anesthesiology 2000 Nov;93(5):1371.



A dramatic increase in the use of complementary and alternative medicines has been observed. The use of such remedies in the presurgical population has implications for the anesthesiologist because of the potential for drug interactions, side effects, and medical liability. This study was undertaken to quantify the use of herbal remedies and vitamins in the presurgical population of a large tertiary care center.


A one-page questionnaire was distributed to all patients presenting for evaluation in the preoperative clinic over an 11-week period. Patients answered questions regarding use of prescription and nonprescription medications, herbal remedies, and vitamins.


Twenty-two percent of presurgical patients reported the use of herbal remedies, and 51% used vitamins. Women and patients aged 40-60 yr were more likely to use herbal medicines. Over-the-counter medication use was strongly associated with herbal preparation use. The most commonly used compounds, from highest to lowest, included echinacea, gingko biloba, St. John's wort, garlic, and ginseng.


Alternative medicine use is common in the preoperative period.

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