Abasaglar® [insulin glargine], Humulin® I [isophane insulin], Insulatard® [isophane insulin], Insuman® Basal [isophane insulin], Lantus® [insulin glargine], Levemir® [insulin detemir], Semglee® [insulin glargine], Suliqua® [insulin glargine with lixisenatide], Tresiba® [insulin degludec], Toujeo® [insulin glargine], Xultophy® [insulin degludec with liraglutide]
[This monograph covers LONG-ACTING insulin – the advice is the same regardless of whether it is part of a basal-bolus regimen in type 1 diabetes or monotherapy / add-on therapy for type 2 diabetes]
Issues for Surgery
Hypoglycaemia if continued during nil by mouth period.
Increased risk of post-operative infection and delayed wound healing due to poor glycaemic control if discontinued.
Increased risk of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) if discontinued, particularly in patients with type 1 diabetes.
Advice in the Perioperative period
Insulin products are classified according to their duration of action and it is important to understand the type of insulin the patient is on in relation to the advice to be given perioperatively. Confirm with the patient the exact name, strength, dose, frequency and preparation of insulin(s) that they are using.
Continue, but at a reduced dose (including combination products containing Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists) - see figure 1 below for details of dose reduction.
When reducing insulin doses round to the nearest unit.
Figure 1 – Management of LONG-ACTING insulin in the Perioperative Period1
Combination Products: -
The doses of Suliqua® and Xultophy® are expressed in terms of ‘dose steps’ (where 10 dose steps refers to 10 units of insulin).
Consideration should be given to prescribing the components of combination products as separate medicines perioperatively.
Monitor CBG, ketones, renal profile and lactate on admission to exclude DKA or hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state (HHS)1. The advice given above can be applied to patients presenting for emergency surgery; however, it must be remembered that these patients are high risk and are likely to require intravenous insulin infusion; either variable rate intravenous insulin infusion (VRIII), or in the case of DKA or HHS a fixed rate intravenous insulin infusion – see Further Information1. Continue to monitor ketones if CBG >13mmol/mol1.
Commence variable rate intravenous insulin infusion (VRIII) perioperatively where indicated, with the patient’s LONG-ACTING insulin continued at 80% of their usual pre-operative dose1 (see figure 1 above and Further Information).
Ensure emergency treatment of hypoglycaemia is prescribed i.e. Glucogel® and 20% dextrose. Rapid acting insulin should also be prescribed1, 2.
Encourage an early return to normal eating and drinking (as deemed appropriate by the Surgical Team), facilitating return to the patient’s usual diabetic regimen1. The insulin dose(s) may need adjusting, as insulin requirements can change due to post-operative stress, infection or altered food intake – monitor CBG levels and seek advice from specialist diabetes team if necessary1, 2.
Interaction(s) with Common Anaesthetic Agents
Reduction in Blood-Glucose Lowering Effect
Substances that may reduce the blood-glucose-lowering effect of insulin include sympathomimetics (e.g. epinephrine / adrenaline)3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
Interaction(s) with other Common Medicines used in the Perioperative Period
Enhancement of Blood-Glucose Lowering Effect
Substances that may enhance the blood-glucose lowering effect of insulin and increase susceptibility to hypoglycaemia include sulphonamide antibiotics (e.g. co-trimoxazole)3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Reduction of Blood-Glucose Lowering Effect
Corticosteroids can reduce the blood-glucose-lowering effect of insulin3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Clinically important hyperglycaemia has been seen12. Monitor CBG closely when corticosteroids are given to patients with diabetes12.
Somatostatin analogues (octreotide and possibly lanreotide) may either increase or decrease the insulin requirements4, 6, 8, 9, 10 but most patients with type 1 diabetes are likely to require a reduction in insulin dose, with some studies suggesting a potential reduction of 50% in patients taking concomitant octreotide11, 12. Monitor CBG when somatostatin analogues are given to patients with diabetes12.
Safe Prescribing and Administration of Insulin
European Medicines Agency – Guidance on prevention of medication errors with high-strength insulins13
A high-strength insulin is a medicine that contains insulin at a concentration of more than the standard 100 units/ml. There are differences in the way high-strength insulin products are used compared with existing insulin formulations of standard-strength and there is therefore a risk of medication errors and accidental mix-up.
Advice for Healthcare Professionals: -
Lantus® (insulin glargine 100 units/ml) and Toujeo® (insulin glargine 300 units/ml) are NOT bioequivalent and are NOT directly interchangeable3, 5.
Patients and nursing staff should be reminded of the importance of rotating injection sites within the same body region to reduce or prevent the risk of cutaneous amyloidosis and other skin reactions; injecting into an affected ‘lumpy’ area may reduce the effectiveness of insulin2.
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 (although VRIII may be necessary in patients with type 1 diabetes who have not received their long-acting insulin, in patients with type 1 diabetes who are expected to miss more than one meal, if emergency surgery or in people with poorly controlled diabetes (HbA1c >69mmol/mol))1. Patients with type 2 diabetes who are expected to miss more than one meal should have VRIII if they develop hyperglycaemia (CBG >12mmol/L)1.
Continue long-acting insulin at 80% of usual dose during treatment with VRIII to prevent hyperglycaemia and ketosis on cessation of VRIII1. In patients with type 1 diabetes do not discontinue VRIII unless patient has received alternative subcutaneous insulin within the last 30 minutes1.