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Reviewing Medical Histories Reveals No Increase in MS Relapse Risk After Surgery, Anesthesia

July 8, 2019

Researchers at the University of Michigan reviewed the medical charts of 281 people with MS who underwent surgeries, and found no statistically significant increase in the risk of MS relapse within 90 days after the procedures. This adds to other evidence suggesting that exposure to surgery or anesthesia does not increase the risk of an MS relapse, but studies also suggest that infection or fever – if they occur because of surgery – may aggravate symptoms of MS.

Limitations to this study include the fact that relapses may have occurred later than 90 days, and that many participants were older adults (and relapses can decrease in frequency with increasing age). Further study is necessary to confirm these findings.  

MS is generally not a reason to avoid having surgery, and the risks of general anesthesia for persons with MS are about the same as those for other people. The exceptions to this primarily involve the small percentage with severe, advanced disease, who may be seriously weakened by MS or have respiratory problems that would put them at greater risk for anesthetic complications.

Read more about this study from the University of Michigan

Read a scientific summary of this study

Read more about Anesthesia and Surgery in people with MS

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, is the global leader of a growing movement dedicated to creating a world free of MS. The Society funds cutting-edge research for a cure, drives change through advocacy and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved:, Facebook, X, formerly known as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.


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