Link between dementia and surgery needs more study

Associate Professor David A. Scott, director of the department of anaesthesia at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, said it was important to establish whether there was a link between post-operative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) and dementia and to be able to identify patients at high risk.

The results of preliminary research, presented at the 2012 New Zealand Anaesthesia Annual Scientific Meeting in Auckland at the weekend, found that after 12 months patients over 50 who underwent surgery had 2–4 times the rate of mild dementia you would find in the rest of the community.

“We don’t know whether that is due to the effect of anaesthesia and surgery or because they are high-risk patients,” Professor Scott said.

“Though there is some evidence in animal experiments that some anaesthetics may adversely affect the neurobiology of Alzheimer’s disease, until we do the research we can’t separate out the stress