Author(s): Rundshagen I
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Older patients in particular are vulnerable to memory disturbances and other types of cognitive impairment after surgical operations. In one study, roughly 12\% of patients over age 60 had postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) three months after surgery. This is an important issue in perioperative care as extensive surgery on older patients becomes more common. METHOD: Selective review of the literature. RESULTS: POCD is usually transient. It is diagnosed by comparing pre- and postoperative findings on psychometric tests. Its pathogenesis is multifactorial, with the immune response to surgery probably acting as a trigger. Factors that elevate the risk of POCD include old age, pre-existing cerebral, cardiac, and vascular disease, alcohol abuse, low educational level, and intra- and postoperative complications. The findings of multiple randomized controlled trials indicate that the method of anesthesia does not play a causal role for prolonged cognitive impairment. POCD is associated with poorer recovery and increased utilization of social financial assistance. It is also associated with higher mortality (hazard ratio 1.63, 95\% confidence interval 1.11-2.38). Persistent POCD enters into the differential diagnosis of dementia. CONCLUSION: POCD can markedly impair postoperative recovery. The findings of pertinent studies performed to date are difficult to generalize because of heterogeneous patient groups and different measuring techniques and study designs. Further investigation is needed to determine which test instruments are best for clinical use and which preventive strategies might lessen the incidence of POCD.
This article was published in Dtsch Arztebl Int
and referenced in Journal of Perioperative & Critical Intensive Care Nursing