Saturday, October 26, 2013

General Anesthetic and Dementia Risk

Medical News Today recently reported on study findings presented at the 2013 annual congress of the European Society of Anesthesiology or ESA. Researchers followed a group of participants aged 65 and older for ten years. They found that participants who had been exposed to one general anesthetic during that time had a 35 percent increased risk of developing a dementia when compared to those who had not exposed to general anesthesia. POCD (postoperative cognitive dysfunction) could be associated with dementia several years after the exposure to general anesthetic. According to lead researcher Dr. Francois Sztark, recognition of POCD recognition is essential in the perioperative management of elderly patients. Sztark has suggested that long-term follow-up of these patients is important. My bias is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which played into my decision to have a spinal anesthetic (rather than a general anesthetic) with both of my hip-replacement surgeries. I am fortunate not only that this type of surgery could be done with spinal anesthetic but also that my surgeon (Dr. William Bowen) was amenable to a spinal. A win-win for my brain! 

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