Surgery when you have Addison’s Disease

If you are faced with an upcoming surgery you must be prepared.  I had a bowel-resection in 2006, and was very nervous about it.

Even though my Internist and my Endocrinologist knew I was having surgery and were aware of complications that could arise during the procedure, I had to make sure that the Surgeon and anesthesiologist knew about my Addison’s Disease.  I talked to my Surgeon at length explaining what my needs were as far as steroids to be administered, how much and when.  He was quite patient with me, knowing how nervous petrified I was.

Before surgery I asked to talk to the anesthesiologist who would be working with my surgeon, she came to my room and talked to me and explained her procedures.  She administered solu-cortef before the surgery started, and then a continuous supply during the four-hour surgery.  Afterwards, during my hospital recovery I was given Solu-Cortef via IV until discharge.  At home I did a slow taper for about a week.  Without complications or post-surgery infections I recovered quickly and completely.

Don’t assume that all the doctors and nurses understand your Addison’s Disease.  I have encountered medical professionals that know little or nothing about my disease.  Don’t feel embarrassed to talk to everyone involved in your care.  Better to talk about  your needs sooner than later.


6 thoughts on “Surgery when you have Addison’s Disease

  1. I have Type 1 diabetes, so it’s similar in preparing for a surgery – I have always needed to patiently educate any doctors and nurses on my insulin doses, testing my blood sugar, etc. It’s surprising how little most medical professionals know about the ins and outs of chronic diseases. thanks for this!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was diagnosed with Addison’s 5yrs and 4mos ago, and am about to have a colonoscopy, and am really nervous!!! But your story of being able to have surgery without complication is very encouraging. Again Thanks for sharing!!! Take care!!!

    • Alberta, Thanks for stopping by, and I’m happy if I put your mind at ease about the colonoscopy. I am having one done on March 7 and the only thing that worries me is the prep. Because of my Crohn’s disease I have had many of these horrible tests, and I justmake sure I keep hydrated while doing the prep, and I usually triple my dose the day of the test. If I start feeling loopy or dizzy during the prep I take some HC to get me through it. Do you have an emergency shot on hand? Please feel free to email me, and good luck with your test.

  3. Hi Maureen,

    I don’t have Addison’s but I did have a bowel resection in 1996 and you are quite right about the importance of asking questions and understanding what’s happening as best as possible!

    In my case, I had 2 primary surgeons working as a team that day for a laparotomy (major surgery).

    One was primarily focused on finding/removing endometriosis. The other was addressing a paraduodenal hernia/malrotated colon by doing the hemicolectomy.

    While they were doing all of that, they discovered a carcinoid tumor on my appendix.

    Thankfully, I had gotten a good handle on what to expect going in from appointments with both of my surgeons.

    Neither of them expected the tumor. So, that was a surprise. However, the description they provided on what they’d be doing and what the recovery time would be like were very accurate (aside from that unexpected discovery).

    It’s so important for patients to ask questions before surgery! I always have detailed conversations with the anesthesiologist before a surgery too.


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