For longer, more complex procedures, a switch to an IV insulin drip is safe and allows rapid adjustments in dosing and plasma glucose levels. Ideally, IV insulin is started prior to the procedure so that the glucose level is stable once the patient arrives in the operating room. Given the logistics of IV insulin management, including the need for frequent monitoring (hourly) and dose adjustments, this type of treatment should be reserved for environments with adequate numbers of trained staff.
IV regular insulin is therapy of choice
Several different algorithms for IV regular insulin therapy are in use. Some are static, such as those of Markovitz et al 14 and Stockton et al, 15 while others are dynamic (ie, doses are self-adjusted based on changes in blood glucose level), such as the “Yale protocol” of Goldberg et al ( Figure 1 ).16
POSTOPERATIVE GLYCEMIC MANAGEMENT
Start subcutaneous transition before stopping IV drip
Transitioning from IV to subcutaneous insulin is often complicated. Nonoral nutrition options (ie, parenteral nutrition or enteral supplementation) must be considered. As noted, insulin must be replaced according to physiologic needs, which requires that a long-acting basal insulin be used regardless of oral intake status, a rapid-acting insulin be given to cover prandial or nutritional needs, and supplemental rapid-acting insulin be used to correct hyperglycemia.
In the transition from IV insulin, basal insulin replacement can begin at any time. I recommend starting the transition from IV to subcutaneous insulin about 12 to 24 hours before discontinuing the insulin drip. In type 1 diabetes, this transition ensures basal insulin coverage and minimizes the risk of developing ketones and ketoacidosis. In type 2 diabetes, it can ensure a more stable transition and better glycemic control.