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Older surgical patients at greater risk for developing cognitive problems
Date:1/2/2008

DURHAM, N.C. -- Patients over the age of 60 who have elective surgeries such as joint replacements, hysterectomies and other non-emergency, inpatient procedures, are at an increased risk for long-term cognitive problems, according to a new study led by Duke University Medical Center researchers.

The study also found that elderly patients who developed these postoperative cognitive problems were more likely to die in the first year after surgery.

We have known that patients undergoing heart surgery are at risk for cognitive dysfunction -- problems with memory, concentration, processing of information -- but the effects of non-cardiac surgeries on brain function are not as well-understood, said Terri Monk, M.D., an anesthesiologist at Duke and the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and lead investigator on the study. Our study found that increasing age put patients in this population at greater risk for cognitive problems and this is significant because the elderly are the fastest growing segment of the population. We know that half of all people 65 and older will have at least one surgery in their lifetime.

The researchers published their findings in the January 1, 2008 issue of the journal Anesthesiology and the results were published early online on December 27, 2007 on the journals Web site. The article is accompanied by a supportive editorial and a companion article detailing the types of cognitive dysfunction that developed and the effects on patients daily lives. The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation and the I. Heerman Foundation.

The researchers measured memory and the ability to process information in more than 1000 adult patients of different ages. Patients were tested preoperatively, at the time of hospital discharge, and three months after surgery. More than 200 control subjects took the same tests at the same frequency, but did not undergo surgery o
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Contact: Lauren Shaftel Williams
lauren.shaftel@duke.edu
919-684-4966
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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