Memory loss not linked to surgery

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Many older people say they have memory problems after surgery but U.S. researchers said they found no post-surgical issues in older patients.

First author Dr. Michael Avidan and Dr. Alex Evers of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said their study findings, published in Anesthesiology, did not support the widespread belief patients with early Alzheimer's disease may worsen as a consequence of surgery.


"There's a perception that people go in for surgery, and they aren't quite the same afterward," Avidan said in a statement.

Avidan and Evers said they did not feel it was reasonable to compare people having surgery to those who were healthy so they studied 575 patients who were tested annually for Alzheimer's-type dementia, and then divided the 361 people who had mild to moderate dementia and the 214 who were dementia-free into three groups -- those who had surgery, those with illness and a third group with neither.

"We were able to use patients as their own controls before and after surgery and to compare groups of patients over time and we did not detect any evidence of a long-term cognitive decline," Evers said. "Our findings suggest that if older people physically recover from surgery, they should expect that within six months or a year, they will return to their previous level of cognitive ability, too."


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