Dr. Francois Sztark of INSERM and University of Bordeaux, France, and colleagues said postoperative cognitive dysfunction, or POCD, is a common complication in elderly patients after major surgery.
It has been proposed that there is an association between POCD and the development of dementia due to a common pathological mechanism through the amyloid beta peptide.
The researchers analyzed the risk of dementia associated with anesthesia within a prospective population-based cohort of elderly patients age 65 years and older.
The research team used data on about 9,000 from the Three-City study -- Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier in France -- designed to assess the risk of dementia and cognitive decline due to vascular risk factors from 1999-01.
Participants age 65 and older were interviewed at baseline and subsequently 2, 4, 7 and 10 years later. Each examination included a complete cognitive evaluation with systematic screening of dementia.
Participants with at least one general anesthesia after the follow-up had a 35 percent increased risk of developing a dementia compared with participants without anesthesia.
The research was presented at Euroanaesthesia, the annual congress of the European Society of Anaesthesiology.