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It is recognized that there is difficulty with mental functioning after surgery in the elderly, according to an article in the June 2003 issue of Clinical Anesthesiology. It now has an official name, which is
post-operative cognitive dysfunction. It is sometimes called POCD. There is limited knowledge on how to predict it and reduce its risk. Local anesthesia can have the same or worse effects as general anesthesia. It has some similarities to other dementias. It has a number of differences as well.
Dementia is a chronic, progressive decrease in the functioning of the brain. The most evident feature is short-term memory loss. Dementia involves other cognitive function problems such as inappropriate behavior, poor judgment, and inability to learn and communicate, think clearly and keep safe. It may be the result of a number of medical conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer's disease. The symptoms of dementia most often get worse over time, rather than coming on suddenly after an event such as surgery.
Post-operative cognitive dysfunction is a decline in cognitive function that lasts for weeks or months after surgery. It is important because those with it have an increased risk of disease or death. Patients with post-operative cognitive dysfunction at their hospital discharge have a better than average chance of dying in the first three months after surgery, and those with POCD at both discharge and three months are more likely to die in the first year after surgery than those with no POCD, according to an article in the January issue of the journal Anesthesiology. Most people recover from uncomplicated post-operative cognitive dysfunction. Persons do not recover from dementia unless...read all of Dementia risk after surgery