The Obese Patient: Facts, Fables, and Best Practices

Abstract

The prevalence of obesity continues to rise worldwide, and anesthesiologists must be aware of current best practices in the perioperative management of the patient with obesity. Obesity alters anatomy and physiology, which complicates the evaluation and management of obese patients in the perioperative setting. Gastric point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS) is a noninvasive tool that can be used to assess aspiration risk in the obese patient by evaluating the quantity and quality of gastric contents. An important perioperative goal is adequate end-organ perfusion. Standard noninvasive blood pressure (NIBP) is our best available routine surrogate measurement, but is vulnerable to greater inaccuracy in patients with obesity compared to the nonobese population. Current NIBP methodologies are discussed. Obese patients are at risk for wound and surgical site infections, but few studies conclusively guide the exact dosing of intraoperative prophylactic antibiotics for them. We review evidence for low-molecular-weight heparins and weight-based versus nonweight-based administration of vasoactive medications. Finally, intubation and extubation of the patient with obesity can be complicated, and evidence-based strategies are discussed to mitigate danger during intubation and extubation.

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