Tips for Getting Ready for Surgical Procedures When You have PD: By Dr. De Leon

“I  had plastic surgery last week. I cut up all my credit cards.” Henry Youngman

As I get ready to undergo yet another diagnostic procedure I am reminded about the possible perils of navigating conscious sedation and anesthesia with PD.

One of the hardest things is being asked to stop your medication the night before a procedure. Depending on your stage of disease this can range from a mildly uncomfortable feeling that can be endured with little discomfort to a downright painful and excruciatingly difficult experience to tolerate that may seem never ending because of the withdrawal symptoms. Then there is the stress of having to undergo a medical procedure to really kick up the use of dopamine in your brain making your Parkinson’s symptoms seem that much worst.

Until I had PD myself I never truly understood how hard it was for patients to be asked to stop their medications. I knew it was not a good idea to make someone stiffer, shakier, have more trouble swallowing and breathing when undergoing general anesthesia.  This is the time we want patients to be the strongest to not only make extubation easier but also decrease aspiration pneumonia around surgery and allow for faster recovery. So why would we want to stop all PD medications? Besides, we would not want increase in pain meds because they are off. When I am off my PD meds the biggest problem I experience is the severity of pain which is so severe it causes me to almost black out. Not a good feeling! Unfortunately, not all PD medications are compatible with anesthesia like MAO inhibitors so meds like Azilect do have to be stopped prior to surgery. And because aspiration and vomiting due to anesthesia need be minimized patients are asked to not eat, drink, or take medications.

But, sometimes surgeries can be delayed due to unforeseen problems as it happened to me with the last surgery. I was scheduled for surgery at 8 and did not actually go to OR until 1pm. So not only are you starving but the time without medication can be prolonged unexpectedly causing greater discomfort.

Things to do to avoid being caught in scenarios where you are stressed more than you have to.

1) If you take Sinemet ask for your physician to write an order for you to take Parcopa in its place throughout surgical procedure to avoid Gi tract. Since this is an orally disintegrating formulation fast acting? If surgery is delayed it can take another dose at your scheduled time. Of course if you are on IV pump this should be able to be continued unless they are working in area where pump is placed.

2) you can still continue with the dopamine patch agonist NEUPRO during surgery.

3) ask for scopolamine patch prior to survey to avoid nausea and upset stomach caused by anesthesia and being off your full regimen.

4) If being off or not eating for long time causes migraines again you can still receive treatment with orally disintegrating Triptans (e.g. Maxalt).

5) Try to be the first case of the morning.

6) If an elective procedure do when you are at your strongest and make sure your neurologist/MDS fine tunes your medications to ensure maximum outcome.  Do not put yourself at an unnecessary risk for an elective procedure (non –life threatening or emergent). As I had to postpone my father in law’s surgery because his breathing was too weak and did not want risk of having trouble coming off the vent after surgery.

These tips should help you ease your discomfort as you prepare for surgical procedures.


Dr. M. De Leon is a movement disorder specialist on sabbatical, PPAC member and research advocate for PDF (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation); Texas State Assistant Director for PAN (Parkinson’s Action Network). You can learn more about her work at you can also learn more about Parkinson’s disease at or at;, All materials here forth are property of Defeatparkinsons. without express written consent, these materials only may be used for viewers personal & non-commercial uses which do not harm the reputation of Defeatparkinsons organization or Dr. M. De Leon provided you do not remove any copyrights. To request permission to reproduce release of any part or whole of content, please contact me at contributor Contributor


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