Issues for Surgery

Increased risk of post-operative infection and delayed wound healing due to poor glycaemic control when omitted.

Hypoglycaemia if continued during

  Advice in the Perioperative period

Elective Surgery

Acarbose should be taken as normal the day prior to surgery1.

Morning Surgery
Omit morning dose if nil by mouth1, 2.

Afternoon Surgery
Take morning dose if eating1, 2.

Emergency Surgery

In the event of emergency surgery and the patient has already taken their acarbose dose(s) monitor blood glucose levels closely and treat any hypoglycaemia accordingly.

Perioperative Considerations 

Commence variable rate intravenous insulin infusion (VRIII) perioperatively where indicated (see Further Information) and omit acarbose during VRIII treatment1.

Ensure emergency treatment of hypoglycaemia is prescribed i.e. Glucogel® and 20% dextrose. Rapid acting insulin should also be prescribed1, 2.

Post-operative Advice

Restart once eating and drinking normally and VRIII (where applicable) has been stopped1.

  Interaction(s) with Common Anaesthetic Agents

None2, 3.

  Interaction(s) with other Common Medicines used in the Perioperative Period

None2, 3.

  Further Information


Patients with a planned short starvation period (no more than one missed meal in total) should be managed by modification of their usual diabetes medication, avoiding VRIII wherever possible. Patients expected to miss more than one meal should have VRIII1.


  1. Joint British Diabetes Societies for Inpatient Care. Management of adults with diabetes undergoing surgery and elective procedures: improving standards (Revised March 2016). Available at: [Accessed 12th March 2019]
  2. Joint Formulary Committee. British National Formulary (online) London: BMJ Group and Pharmaceutical Press. [Accessed on 12th March 2019]
  3. Summary of Product Characteristics - Glucobay® (acarbose). Bayer plc. Accessed via 12/03/2019 [date of revision of the text October 2017]