Preparing for surgery when you have diabetes
You may need surgery for a diabetes complication or some other problem. Your diabetes may increase your risk for problems during or after your surgery, such as:
- Infection after surgery
- Healing slower
- Heart problems
Work with your doctor to come up with the safest surgery plan for you.
Focus more on controlling your diabetes during the weeks before surgery.
Your doctor will do a medical exam and talk to you about your health.
- Tell your doctor about any medications you're taking.
- If you take Metformin, talk to your doctor about stopping it. Usually, patients stop taking it 48 hours before and 48 hours after surgery to decrease the risk of lactic acidosis.
- If you take insulin, ask your doctor what dose you should be taking the night before and the day of your surgery.
Surgery is riskier if you have diabetes complications. So talk to your doctor about your diabetes control and any complications you have from diabetes. Tell your doctor about any problems you have with your heart, kidneys, or eyes, or if you have loss of feeling in your feet. The doctor may run some tests to check the status of those problems.
Talk to your doctor about maintaining good blood sugar levels during surgery. Your blood sugars should be between 80-150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) during the surgery. You may do better with surgery and get better faster if your blood sugars are controlled during surgery.
The doctor may use insulin and glucose infusions to keep your blood sugar steady during surgery.
Check your blood sugars often. You may have more trouble controlling your sugars because you:
- Have trouble eating
- Are vomiting
- Are stressed after surgery
- Are less active than usual
Expect that you may take more time to heal because of your diabetes. Be prepared for a hospital stay if you are having major surgery. People with diabetes often have to stay in the hospital longer than people without diabetes.
Watch for signs of infection, such as a fever, or an incision that is red, hot to touch, or oozing.
Prevent bedsores. Move around in bed and get out of bed frequently. If you have less feeling in your toes and fingers, you may not feel if you are getting a bed sore. Make sure you move around.
When to call your doctor
Call your doctor if:
- You have any questions about surgery or anesthesia
- You are not sure what medicines you should take or stop before surgery
- You think that you have an infection
Seballos, RJ. Preventative medicine: principles of screening. In: Carey, WD. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine. 2nd ed. Cleveland, OH: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:1266-1268.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-
A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.