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Drip Coffee: IV Caffeine May Prevent Post-Surgery Headaches

October 23, 1996

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A coffee lover’s fantasy, IV caffeine, has arrived.

This shot in the arm is not for everyday use, though. Intravenous caffeine helps prevent coffee and soda drinkers from getting withdrawal headaches after surgery, said Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist Dr. Joseph Weber.

Coffee drinkers who get the caffeine drip are less likely to wake up from anesthesia with a headache than those who don’t, he said.

``We’re not talking just about people who go through two or three pots of coffee a day,″ Weber said. ``Even one small caffeinated beverage a day will do it.″

In studies at Mayo Clinics in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Rochester, Minn., Weber found that people used to getting a daily dose of caffeine had a 25 percent chance of a post-surgery headache.

But he said an 8-ounce caffeinated drink reduced the chance of a headache to 10 percent. It doesn’t matter if the patient gets that caffeine through a tube in the recovery room or as a drink two to three hours before surgery, he said.

He was to present his findings this afternoon at a meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in New Orleans.

University of California-San Francisco anesthetist Dr. Daniel I. Sessler said there have been a number of similar studies, but with inconclusive results.

People who regularly down caffeine make up about 80 percent of the U.S. population. That means caffeine could help avert headaches for 1.5 million or more people who have walk-in surgery each year.

The intravenous caffeine is good for patients who can’t drink a caffeinated beverage after surgery, Weber said.

``This isn’t a life or death issue. But we’re talking about millions of people who can be improved with a relatively simple and safe intervention,″ he said.

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