Ankylosing spondylitis and anesthesia

Carlos Rogério Degrandi Oliveira About the author

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints, included in the group of seronegative spondyloarthropathies. Its main characteristic is the fusion of the bones in the spine, which causes loss of flexibility of the back and neck. Other large articulations and connective tissues can be affected by the inflammatory process. It affects mainly men between the ages of 20 and 40; it is rare after the age of 50. Women represent a minority of patients. There is little information about AS in the anesthetic literature. The objective of this article was to review the characteristics of AS pertaining anesthesiology for an adequate perioperative handling. CONTENTS: The clinical characteristics of ankylosing spondylitis pertaining to the anesthetic conduct are reviewed. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with chronic diseases of the spine represent specific challenges to the anesthesiologist. Handling of the airways and the access to the neuroaxis can be difficult. Most anesthesiologists prefer to use general anesthesia, avoiding the neuroaxis, in those patients, despite the presence of difficult airways. The degree of spine involvement will determine how difficult the tracheal intubation might be. Special care should be taken to avoid excessive manipulation of the neck, which could cause trauma to the spinal cord.


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