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Anesthesiology/Vision Altered after surgery


QUESTION: Are there different types of anesthesia?  I had a long 10 hour bilateral mastectomy last year (I am 55 yr old in goof health).  I had no problems from this surgery with vision.  Three months ago I was then diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma and went to a large teaching University for a 7 hour surgery.  For 2 weeks post surgery my vision was altered.  I could not watch TV and facial features were completely blurred and cloudy, very scary.  

I had extensive testing done with an Ophthalmologist and nothing was found.  I never needed glasses other than readers.  Even with glasses on no change.  I then had an brain MRI to rule out brain tumor, and that test came out clean, no tumors.   It eventually resolved itself for the most part after weeks but not 100%.  I know other people this has happened to and it didn't resolve.  There has to be something during surgery that causes this.  I have to go back in for another surgery at the same University hospital and I'm very concerned about this happening again.  What can I do?

Thank you for your recommendations..

ANSWER: It's not related to the anesthesia bur perhaps is related to positioning. If you were positioned face down (unlikely, as these procedures are usually done in a semi-lateral position) or you were in steep trendelenburg (head down), which might be the case particularly if you had robotic surgery, then the increased pressure on the eyes might be the problem. Without seeing your anesthetic record, it would be hard to say what happened but it is definitely not because of the particular drugs you were given.

Ronald Levy, MD
Professor of Anesthesiology

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Dr. Levy.  I was on my right side during the partial nephrectomy not face down and was performed Robotically.

Then there is no sense in requesting anything different if its 100% not related to anesthesia.  All I do know it was a direct result from surgery and would love get to the bottom of why it happened before I go back to the OR again next week.

Perhaps I should request my anesthesia records to review.

You could do that but it may not give you much information. My guess is that you were in steep trendelenburg which can reduce venous return and cause increased intraocular pressure. As long as they don't plan to do the same thing, you should have the same problem.

Ronald Levy, MD
Professor of Anesthesiology


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Ronald Levy, M.D.


Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. I am a board certified anesthesiologist who can answer all questions related to any type of Anesthesia with the exception of Pain Management.

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