Why we think it’s important 

This study is important because it shows that people with cannabis use disorder have a slightly higher risk of complications and even death during major surgeries compared to those without the disorder. The findings suggest that healthcare professionals should screen for cannabis use disorder before surgeries to better assess risks and plan treatments, highlighting the need to understand and address the potential impact of cannabis use on patient safety as its use becomes more common in the United States. 


As cannabis use becomes more prevalent in the United States, there is a growing need to understand its potential impact on health, especially in medical settings. A recent study, titled “Cannabis Use Disorder and Perioperative Complications,” sheds light on the association between cannabis use disorder and increased risks during major elective surgeries. In this week’s blog, we’ll break down the key findings from the study and explore the implications for patients and healthcare professionals. 

Understanding the Study 

The study, conducted between 2016 and 2019, analyzed data from 12,422 hospitalizations involving major elective, noncardiac surgeries. The researchers focused on patients aged 18 to 65 and investigated the connection between cannabis use disorder and perioperative complications. Cannabis use disorder was defined based on specific diagnostic codes from the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). 

Key Findings 

The study revealed that patients with cannabis use disorder had a 7.73% incidence of perioperative complications and mortality, compared to 6.57% in the unexposed group. This modest but significant increase in risk suggests that cannabis use disorder is associated with higher morbidity and in-hospital mortality following major elective surgeries. The primary composite outcome included in-hospital mortality and seven major perioperative complications such as myocardial ischemia, acute kidney injury, stroke, respiratory failure, venous thromboembolism, hospital-acquired infection, and surgical procedure–related complications. 

Implications for Patient Care 

The findings emphasize the importance of preoperative screening for cannabis use disorder as part of the perioperative risk assessment. Healthcare professionals should be aware of the potential impact of cannabis use on surgical outcomes and consider it when developing treatment plans for patients undergoing major elective surgeries. As cannabis use becomes more widespread, understanding and addressing its potential risks are crucial for optimizing patient care and safety. 

Further Research and Recommendations 

While this study provides valuable insights, the researchers acknowledge the need for additional research to refine our understanding of the perioperative impact of cannabis. Factors such as route and dosage of cannabis use require further investigation to develop informed recommendations for preoperative cannabis cessation. As medical and recreational cannabis use continues to rise, ongoing research will help guide healthcare professionals in mitigating potential risks associated with cannabis use disorder during the perioperative period. 


All things considered, the study “Cannabis Use Disorder and Perioperative Complications” highlights the association between cannabis use disorder and increased risks of perioperative complications and mortality. As healthcare professionals adapt to the growing prevalence of cannabis use, incorporating preoperative screening for cannabis use disorder can contribute to more accurate risk stratification and improved patient outcomes. Future research will play a crucial role in refining our understanding and informing guidelines for managing cannabis use in the perioperative setting. 


“Cannabis Use Disorder and Perioperative Complications.” (P. P. Potnuru, et al., JAMA Surg, 2023)