St. Caffeine and Anesthesia

Posted by Clark Venable on 10/16/2004

If you're an anesthesiologist or surgeon, a significant number of your patients are caffeine dependent. Being aware of this fact and planning for it will significantly improve your patient's operative experience. In fact, if you're an anesthesiologist or a surgeon, you're probably caffeine dependent, but that another blog post. In my pre-op visits with patients, I ask if they are regular caffeine drinkers, if so, how much, and what happens if they don't have any caffeine on a given day. For patients that report headaches without daily caffeine intake, I plan on administering caffeine.

The most convenient form pre-op is injectible Caffeine and Sodium Benzoate (though tablets are also available). Our formulation comes in a 2 cc vial, of which each cc contains 121mg of anhydrous caffeine. I think of each cc as being the equivalent of one cup of coffee or one can of Diet Coke. Yes, there are studies. Here's one of them: Prophylactic intravenous administration of caffeine and recovery after ambulatory surgical procedures. The cost? About $3.50 per vial. About the same as a tall latte with extra foam (in Europe). I typically administer one cc IV very slow push, and squirt the other cc into the iv bag.

You know what I think the biggest benefit is? It's not just the lack of headache (they weren't expecting a headache when they came in) it's the feeling that they're being well cared for. Sort of like bringing them a warm blanket. Oh, and the nurses will be very impressed, too.

p.s. the title of this post refers to a song by John Gorka called St. Caffeine:

I've seen the light, oh the light I've seen

I've seen the light of St. Caffeine

Of other drugs I am clean

I pray to you St. Caffeine

I moved this over from my personal blog

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