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General anesthesia used during surgery can have a negative impact on the elderly

July 29, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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A study, published in Anesthesia & Analgesics, found that in-hospital delirium can potentially lead to a decline in cognitive function, requiring admission to long-term care facilities. Researchers investigated the prevalence and negative outcomes of delirium on the elderly in the hospital setting. Participants, aged 70 and older, were evaluated for a diagnosis of delirium in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) after their surgical procedures. Further evaluations were done on the ward.

Of the 91 patients, of whom 58 percent were female, 78 percent were found to have a prevalence of 45 percent delirium in the PACU. For those whose delirium resolved by post-op day 1, the severity of negative outcomes fell between those who had no delirium and those who delirium persisted after transfer to the hospital wards.

Researchers note that while post-operative delirium from anesthesia is common, it is not universal. If it persists, delirium has the potential to cause a decline in cognition may increase the need for institutionalization after discharge from the hospital setting.

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