Anti-inflammatory before surgery

8-3 Page 4A.inddIn too many senior patients, going under general anesthesia for surgery can leave a lingering problem with impaired concentration or memory. It’s called post-operative cognitive dysfunction, and in some cases, the effects might be permanent.

The potential damage can depend on the degree of anesthesia. Add that to the trauma of the surgery itself, and there can be damage to the central nervous system.

A study done in Brazil might have an answer to this growing problem: a drug called dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory. If given before an operation, the drug can help avoid problems while under anesthesia.

For this study, researchers looked at 140 patients (ages 60 to 87) and gave pre-surgery tests to determine their mental status. During surgery itself, the patients were divided into four groups and were given varying levels of anesthesia. Only some of them were given the drug. The testing was double-blind, which means none of the participants or researchers knew who was getting what.

The bottom line: All participants were tested on Days 3, 7, 21, 90 and 180 after surgery, with their cognitive and mental skills compared to their pre-surgery levels. The group that had superficial anesthesia plus the drug had 15.3 percent post-operative cognitive dysfunction, but within six months all those patients had returned to the pre-surgery testing levels.

If you’re scheduled for surgery, have a atalk with your doctor and your surgeon about the level of anesthesia you’re likely to receive. Deep anesthesia might not be required, and it shouldn’t be done routinely. Ask about the dexamethasone, too. Not everyone can take it, but it’s worth asking about if it helps preserve cognitive function.

(c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.