Perioperative management of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A narrative review

Anaesth Intensive Care. 2022 Sep;50(5):345-360. doi: 10.1177/0310057X211065042. Epub 2022 May 12.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or motor neuron disease, is an uncommon progressive neurological disorder. Professionals working in the perioperative field may encounter patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis only rarely. The relevant published literature on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is broad in scope, but a contemporary review focused on the perioperative period is absent. This structured narrative review seeks to provide a summary of the contemporary management of patients and then focuses on eliciting if there are perioperative management considerations specific to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that can be optimised. A comprehensive structured narrative literature review, including grey literature searching, indicated worsening ventilatory failure is of prime concern but that patients may present with a broad range of neurological symptoms, and that cardiovascular and cognitive dysfunction specific to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may exist and be occult. Exacerbation of neuromuscular weakness during the perioperative period is multifaceted and requires the application of a high standard of the core principles of surgical and anaesthetic management of neuromuscular disease. Standard perioperative approaches require rigorous attention and potential exists for significant alteration. There is a potential high risk of postoperative increased morbidity from neurological decline and mortality from pulmonary complications. A meticulous approach to planning preoperative assessment, shared decision-making, intraoperative and postoperative care is required.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; anaesthesia; intensive care; neurological disorders; neuromuscular disease; perioperative medicine; shared decision-making.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Perioperative Care*