Perioperative medication management for the patient with rheumatoid arthritis

Christopher R Howe, Gregory C Gardner, Nancy J Kadel
Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2006, 14 (9): 544-51
The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis has improved dramatically in recent years with the advent of the latest generation of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Despite these advances, in some patients inflammation is not diminished sufficiently to prevent irreversible musculoskeletal damage, thus requiring surgical intervention to reduce pain and improve function. In these cases, the orthopaedic surgeon frequently encounters patients on a drug regimen consisting of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, glucocorticoids, methotrexate, and biologic agents (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs). Consultation with a rheumatologist is recommended, but the surgeon also should be aware of these medications that could potentially affect surgical outcome. Prudent perioperative management of these drugs is required to optimize surgical outcome. A balance must be struck between minimizing potential surgical complications and maintaining disease control to facilitate postoperative rehabilitation of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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