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My older son has diabetes and my younger son has to undergo an operation, probably in June/July. Is there any possibility that this operation (with total anaesthesia) will trigger diabetes? Furthermore, if blood tests were done now, and showed that my younger son has the diabetes tendency, could this operation make the situation worse? If so, how can we help?

As we've discussed before, the chances for diabetes in a sibling of someone with diabetes is probably about five percent. And testing can be done which might indicate that the chances for diabetes are higher than usual, if your non-diabetic son has certain antibodies that seem to be early indicators of diabetes.

Clearly, something would sooner or later trigger diabetes in susceptible individuals: usually it's viral infections, but it could be medications such as steroids or other stressors, such as surgery.

What to do? Well, for starters, make sure that the surgeon has backup from a knowledgeable diabetes doctor; check your non-diabetic son's blood sugars before and after the surgery; and make sure the doctors write orders for the nursing staff to check several blood sugars in the first few hours after surgery. If any of the blood sugar levels are high, then your son's diabetes doctor would be able to help sort things out better.

Original posting 15 Feb 96


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