COPD and general anaesthetics


I have osteoarthritis (in addition to moderate copd), the arthritis in my hips is now getting bad enough to interfere with my ability to work, where I should be on my feet on and off for five plus hours.... (I love my job, and don't want to give it up).

My GP, who I saw yesterday, has offered to refer me to the osteo consultant to go the surgical route and consider hip replacement .... not sure what I think ... some of the medication I have tried has made me more breathless so Ive not taken the full course ... normal pain killers, ibuprofen, paracetamol, codeine etc do not make much difference.

I know hip replacements are very effective, but the thought of the impact on my breathing of anaethesia and the risk of hospital infection rates on my lung health is giving me some concerns..... (my late mother died of a massive lung infection and complications from it, caught when in hospital for kidney problems).

Anyone have any info or experience to share with me .... your opinions much valued



24 Replies

  • hello a friend of mine had hip replacement with copd moderate to severe,she was fine home and walking about,bernice

  • very good to hear this



  • I am afraid I cannot offer any practical advice. I do feel that you will be properly assessed before any treatment is offered. My friend who is 84 has just had a hysterectomy (completely different) but she has a lot of other health problems. She had good treatment and support before and after her op. All the best. xx

  • thanks annie, very reassuring info

    hope you keep as well as poss too


  • thanks stitich ... Ive not smoked for three years now so feel much reassured by the info .... thanks.

    btw ... have started on the Gullivers Travels ... a bit slow but going to stick with it ... tho work is now back full on and me hobbling about and finding it all a bit of a struggle

    Thanks for responding tho'

    Beth xx

  • Hi Beth

    I have bronchiectasis and have had a few ops. A lobectomy aged 15 and more recently a gynae op which was done using a spinal block. My latest surgery was a lap chole (removal of gall bladder (keyhole). They were concerned about the GA mainly because they have to pump in lots of gas into the abdomen for this surgery. All went well.

    If I remember correctly my elderly former next door neighbour had his hip replacement done using a spinal block and I wonder if this is an option you might want to discuss with your doc/surgeon.

    I am so sorry to hear about your Mum and I can understand your concern with regard to a hospital acquired infection. It may be helpful to discuss this also with your doc/surgeon.

    Whatever you decide Beth I wish you well hun.

    Love cx

  • cofdrop ... thanks .... lovely comments

    Is a spinal block the same as an 'epidural' ... had one when giving birth 23 years ago .. to my lovely 'boy' ...who now would not thank me for calling him a boy

    I think my Gran had a hip replaced under an epidural when she was in her 80s (20 years ago) ... I will look into it and discus with my GP .... thanks loads

    Beth xx

  • You're welcome hun. It is the same procedure, injection in the back, although I think the medication would be stronger - you are quite with it - I can remember lots of banter and joking in theatre.

    love cx

  • Might be worth a chat with your respiratory consultant regarding the anaesthetic Beth.

    I think there is a fairly long recovery period after hip replacement surgery which you will want to take into account. You may get a better idea about recovery during and after if you can access or find a hip replacement support group. Not sure if there is one on healthunlocked. Patient UK has information and discussion group you might want to check out:

    I think finding out as much as you can will help you decide, once the hip becomes too painful probably the hip replacement is the best option providing you are confident about a full recovery.

    Best wishes BC

  • thank BC, I will be going on a fact finding trawl over the next few weeks

  • My friend has RA and has had both of her knee joints replaced. Each op was done using a spinal block. Apart from the noise she had no probs with the ops

  • Hi nana, thanks for the reply

    Ive heard similar about the spinal block ... I don't like general anaethesia, had lots of ops when younger and the anaethetic after effects seemed worse than the actual op itself

  • I too had a spinal block recently for my knee op - my problem was that I didn't want to be aware of what was going on around me, and they said not to worry as they also give you some other meds to keep you pretty well sedated. It all worked for me - felt very strange when I 'came to' and couldn't feel my legs, but that sensation didn't last long. There's no need for you to suffer the pain - good luck with everything. xx

  • Hi Dedalus

    Thanks for the reply .... from what everyone says it seems pretty straightforward ... I will see what they say at hospital (sometime, no appointment yet)

    Thanks for the reassurance


  • I've had three operations under general anaesthetic in recent years ( since being diagnosed with copd ) on my ear, I have mastoiditis, and I know for a fact they make sure your sats don't drop below 97.... don't worry, think of the result and being able to move around better, they will send you back home as soon as they can! my local hospital is supposed to be one of the worst in the country but I was okay :) stay positive, I'll be rooting for you Postie xxxx

  • Thanks Postie

    I am now waiting for an appointment to see the bone people at the local hospital ... no idea how long this will be tho'

    Thanks for the positive info


  • I had a knee replacement with general anaesthetic with no problems when I woke the nurse sat with me until I was completely conscious. I have moderate COPD.

  • Hi postscript, if I was in your position, i would go for the operation as many painkillers effect the other health conditions.Try to get yourself as fit as possible before the op so there's less risk of infection and I am sure you will be monitored closely under anaesthetic as you have a lung condition. A first appointment usually takes about three months at maximum. Epidural as already said is another option, but even that carries some risk.What ever your choice hope it all goes well for you.

  • Thank you Katie

    I so agree with your opinion about painkillers .... the ones my GP prescribed did make my much more breathless and I know that even the non steroid painkillers have an impact on health.

    I am thinking that an operation (either with general anaesthetic, or spinal block) may well be a healthier option than a few or many years on increasingly high doses of painkillers and steroids.

    Thanks again


  • hi I also have osteo arthritis in addition to COPD last year I had to have total knee replacement this was done under spinal aneathesia as are most orthopaedic ops now and also due to me having copd the aneathetist would not consider giving me general anaesthesia I can really assure you that you will be fine take some music and headphones into theatre to help you relax .post op I was fine just used my inhalers as usual no infections of any sort and was only in hosp for 4 nights recovery was good now walking as normal and without pain !! just do your exercises as the physio teaches you keep moving !I know you will be worried about the op I was but I had great care and so glad I had it done GO FOR IT!!

  • My MIL had a hip replacement and she didn't have a general - she had an epidural so there wasn't an issue. That said i had a minor gynaecological op last year and was not allowed general anaesthetic - that said probably a risk just not worth taking for somethign so minor. So it looks like it differs. But let them know of your concerns.

    Marie x

  • i had an operation on my spine, I have emphysema chronic bronchitis pulmonary fibrosis, and I was ok with anisthetic on pre assessment for going into hospital you can ask to see anesthetist.they will know by listen to your lungs

  • sorry forgot to say iam sever stage with my lung conditions

  • 18 months ago I had to undergo surgery on a rather large hernia in my left groin. Due to the severity of my COPD, I could not be considered for a general anaesthetic. I had to have a spinal anaesthetic which sounds unpleasant but gave me no problems. The worst part of the procedure was the spray used to freeze the area on my back to receive the spinal injection - not painful but a bit of a shock to the system. Screens are put in place so you can't see the operation site - you can have a mild sedative to help you relax and you can take in your own music on headphones. I actually chose to view the procedure which I found to be extremely interesting - the 50 minute operation time soon flew past.

    My main concern throughout the procedure was the fact that I couldn't feel or move any part of my body below the "belly-button" - it was a strange sensation at first but I soon got used to it. Within 3 hours of the operation I had regained full movement in my lower body. I was kept in hospital for observation overnight and discharged the following morning.

    If you are offered a spinal anaesthetic please go ahead with the operation - there is nothing to fear and the long term benefits will be tremendous.

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