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Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Oct;51(10):763-70. doi: 10.5414/CP201898.

Antidepressant treatment with MAO-inhibitors during general and regional anesthesia: a review and case report of spinal anesthesia for lower extremity surgery without discontinuation of tranylcypromine.


Monoamine oxidase-(MAO)-inhibitors are a treatment of last resort in treatment resistant depression, which is regarded as a condition of increased psychiatric risk. General and regional anesthesia for elective surgery during use of long-term MAO-inhibitors remains a matter of debate because of an increased risk of drug interactions and decreased sympathetic stability. A series of case reports and new comparative studies reveal the safety of anesthesia/analgesia in non-cardiac surgery without discontinuation of the MAO-inhibitor if best effort is made for maintenance of sympathetic homeostasis and if known drug interactions are avoided. Very few reports with severe adverse incidents have been noted. Severe cardiovascular morbidity, a contraindication of MAO-inhibitors, probably contributed to peri- and postoperative complications. According to new studies, the risk of pharmacokinetic drug interactions is lower for tranylcypromine than for phenelzine. In the present case, a 66-year-old psychiatric patient on permanent treatment with 20 mg/day tranylcypromine was admitted for forefoot surgery. Anesthetic premedication consisted of 7.5 mg oral midazolam. Intravenous midazolam (0.5 mg) was dispensed for intraoperative sedation. After local anesthesia of the puncture site with 30 mg isobar prilocaine, spinal anesthesia was achieved by a single shot of 13.5 mg hyperbar bupivacaine (0.5%) intrathecally. Postoperative regional and general analgesia were accomplished by a peripheral nerve block with 50 mg isobar bupivacaine as well as oral etoricoxib and oxycodone. No peri- or postoperative complications were encountered. It is concluded that general or regional anesthesia for noncardiac surgery without discontinuation of MAO-inhibitor treatment may be a safe intervention after careful evaluation of an individual's perioperative and psychiatric risk. The increased psychiatric risk in patients treated with MAO-inhibitors outweighs the increased, however manageable, perioperative risk from continuing treatment during surgery.

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