Fish oil does not increase risk of bleeding during surgery.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Fish oils (Health aspects)
Omega-3 fatty acids (Health aspects)
Hemorrhage (Risk factors)
Surgery (Complications)
Surgery (Risk factors)
Spine (Surgery)
Spine (Complications and side effects)
Author: Gaby, Alan R.
Pub Date: 07/01/2012
Publication: Name: Townsend Letter Publisher: The Townsend Letter Group Audience: General; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 The Townsend Letter Group ISSN: 1940-5464
Issue: Date: July, 2012 Source Volume: 348
Product: Product Code: 2077361 Fish & Marine Oils; 2834720 Fish Liver Oils NAICS Code: 311613 Rendering and Meat Byproduct Processing; 325412 Pharmaceutical Preparation Manufacturing SIC Code: 2077 Animal and marine fats and oils; 2833 Medicinals and botanicals
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 297056539
Full Text: Ninety-five patients who underwent posterior lumbar decompression surgery by a single surgeon were studied retrospectively. Sixteen patients took omega-3 fatty acid supplements within 14 days of surgery, stopping an average of 2.3 days before surgery (cases), and the other patients did not take such supplements within 14 days of surgery (controls). There was no significant difference between cases and controls in demographic parameters, use of other anticoagulants, or surgical time. Mean estimated blood loss was nonsignificantly higher in cases than in controls (154 vs. 138 ml; p = 0.53). There were two complications related to bleeding in the control group and none in the omega-3 fatty acid group. The authors cited five other studies in which the use of omega-3 fatty acids was not associated with increased risk of bleeding complications, blood loss, or transfusion requirements in patients undergoing abdominal surgery or coronary bypass surgery.

Comment: Because fish oil inhibits platelet function, there is concern that it could increase the amount of bleeding during surgery. Most surgeons therefore recommend that fish oil not be taken before surgery. However, the results of this new study and other studies suggest that it is safe to take omega-3 fatty acid supplements, at least up to two days prior to undergoing surgery.

Kepler CK et al. Omega-3 and fish oil supplements do not cause increased bleeding during spinal decompression surgery. J Spinal Disord Tech. Epub 2011; Mar 16.
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