The People's Perspective on Medicine

Can Surgical Anesthesia Cause Brain Fog and Confusion?

Does surgical anesthesia scramble neurons? Some people, especially older adults, seem especially prone to POCD (post operative cognitive dysfunction).
Old man confused with many question marks

When a doctor discusses the pros and cons of elective surgery, the conversation often focuses on the desired benefits and the potential risks of the procedure itself. Rarely does the subject of surgical anesthesia come up. Very few patients learn about the type of anesthetic that will be used or its effect on the brain.

Anesthesiologists have been debating the impact of surgical anesthesia on brain function for years. Some research suggests this is a temporary problem (British Journal of Anesthesia, March, 2014). Other anesthesiologists maintain that surgery and anesthesia may have a longer-lasting negative impact (British Journal of Anesthesia, online, Sept. 24, 2014).

One reader shares his experience:

Q. After a 13-hour surgery, it took weeks before I could read the newspaper again. My brain simply wouldn’t work well enough.

I think that anesthesia scrambles the neurons. I had insomnia, an inability to concentrate and vivid dreams. This also happened many years ago when I was younger. I believe that rest, good nutrition and brain training exercises can help speed recovery.

A. General anesthesia represents one of the great advances in medicine because it allows for pain-free surgery. Surgeons have been using medications to induce a temporary coma for 165 years, but we still don’t know exactly how they work and what else they might be doing to the brain.

Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is not unusual, particularly in older people (Annual Review of Nursing Research, Jan., 2017).  Most patients recover their cognitive function with time, though it may take several months. There is ongoing debate about the benefits and risks of inhaled anesthetics compared to intravenous anesthetics when it comes to recovery.

Reader Responses re: Surgical Anesthesia

Heather in Huntington, WV wrote:

“I had a 7 hour surgery two weeks ago and the following brain fog is getting more frustrating every day. I am 40 with four kids. They, of course, find it hilarious that it takes me three trips to the kitchen to get what I originally went in there for, but it is driving me crazy.

“I return to work tomorrow and am concerned that I won’t be able to focus. Even just now, I stopped typing to answer my daughter`s question then started filing my nails not remembering that I was mid sentence in my typing. I was given Versed before my anesthesia. I’m very hopeful this will resolve itself sooner rather than later.”

David in Texas reports:

“In July of 2013 I had total knee replacement surgery. I was out nearly 6 hours due to some ‘problem’ as my doctor told me. At any rate…my short term memory was really bad at first and after four weeks I returned to work part time. I was almost dysfunctional because I could not remember SH**!.

“Now after 18 months, my memory is still not completely back to normal and it still sucks, but at least I am functional!”

Carole in Virginia shared a similar experience:

“I also had knee replacement in 2013. I was 65. I also had complications and 6 hrs of anesthesia (no idea what kind) and had no short term memory for months after. I now still have to work at getting out some words and still forget, but I am able to function once again.”

Kristin in Arizona has some good news to offer:

“Two weeks ago I had a total knee replacement. For a week following the surgery, I had severe short-term memory loss: not remembering appointments, if I had eaten or taken pills, had visitors, etc. I also lost the ability to comprehend even the simplest math—even basic arithmetic was a challenge. Friends told me I repeated myself over and over. From what I can tell, it was like fairly advanced dementia.

“I have had numerous surgeries, and never had this reaction before. My memory began to return to normal on day 8 and is now back to where it was pre-surgery. I do not know what surgical anesthesia was used, but I will find out and try to avoid it in the future.”

A follow-up from Kristin:

“The anesthesia that was used was VERSED. Since that surgery, I had hand surgery and requested propofol and NO Versed.

“This time I awoke very quickly with no brain fog and no memory issues at all. What I have read is that, following surgery, Versed causes memory problems that last about 2 weeks in up to 40% of patients. In 17%, the memory problems last up to 3 months. And in about 4%, the memory problems are permanent. In my opinion, there is no excuse to continue using Versed. I was not told about the high likelihood that I could have memory problems. I will never allow it to be used again. The propofol worked MUCH better for me.”

The data on intravenous propofol vs. other types of surgical anesthesia remain confusing. Some researchers have maintained that propofol intravenous surgical anesthesia is associated with rapid recovery of cognitive function. Others say there is no difference between IV anesthesia with propofol and inhaled gas anesthesia (Canadian Journal of Anesthesia (Oct., 2016).

People’s Pharmacy Take Home Message:

We think it is important for patients to always speak with the anesthesiologist before undergoing elective surgery. A candid conversation about POCD (postoperative cognitive dysfunction) and the type of anesthesia that will be used is essential, especially in older people.

Share your own surgical anesthesia experiences below in the comment section.

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    Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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    I had surgery for a hysterectomy at the very end of April. Two weeks later I had to be put back under for an emergency vaginal repair due to my stitches coming undone. It is now Mid-July, and I have brain function issues and memory loss. I find it hard to find words when I am in a conversation. It worries me, and it is frustrating to me, as I am sure it is for those listening to me and waiting several minutes for me to complete a simple sentence and at times just struggling for words. I can’t remember simple things that happened just prior to the surgery. I was getting scared to death until I read this article and realize I am not alone.

    I had an emergency appendectomy six weeks ago. I’m not sure what kind of anesthesia was used, but I returned to work this week and am really struggling. It’s as if I’ve forgotten everything about how to do my job! I’ve had four surgeries within the past two years, and the most recent seems to have affected me the most with regard to my memory. I’m 54 years old. Alzheimer’s Disease runs on the female side of my family, and I am terrified. My mother had a bilateral knee replacement at the age of 66, and that seemed to “ramp up” her dementia. She is now 74 and has the mental age of a 5 year old. I knew there were risks to anesthesia during surgery, but wasn’t aware it could have such long-term, devastating affects.

    I had kidney stones removed last week and seemed tired and groggy, but generally okay after the procedure. Today I was giving a rather complex explanation to a friend and suddenly became mentally confused, and my speech was garbled. This condition lasted for about one to two minutes. I simply could not think clearly nor verbalize. After this episode my brain resumed its normal functioning. I’m 85 years old and just wonder if this was due to the anesthetic or that my old brain just couldn’t handle the demands I asked of it.

    I’m Linda I had hysterectomy in 2015.After waking by a blonde surgeon who was not regular surgeon after almost 3 hours. Scared the he’ll out of my family. FROM THEN UNTIL NOW IM STILL HAVE PROBLEMS WITH CONFUSION, FORGETFORNESS, AND I CAN’T FOCUS IT S HARD FOR ME TO READ A BOOK. Can you help me. I just started a job and I’m having a hard time. Remembering, focus, forgetting my work that have do. Help please.

    I have read so many of your stories about cognitive problems after surgery. I just had a hip replacement with spinal anesthesia instead of General and had very mild memory issues for the first few weeks that I immediately associated with anesthesia. No one ever discussed this possibility before surgery. It can be and was very frightening . Many surgeons are now offering spinal anesthesia now instead of general anesthesia where an epidural is given for lower limb surgery like hips and knees. You are given mild sedation and are not awake during surgery. Recovery is faster both physically and cognitively. However, most surgeons do not explain this when they give patients a choice in type of anesthesia. The anesthesiologist should also discuss the type of sedation he or she is planning to give and the possible post surgical side effects but most do not. I am also studying which pre and post surgical nutritional supplements can support our recovery both physically and cognitively . I don’t want to go through this again nor do I want anyone else to. For many, it can be quite debilitating.

    I can relate to all of the comments. I had two knee replacements, one in 2016 and one in 2017. I had hip replacement in 2017 and four months later had hernia surgery. Not one doctor told me the possible side effects of anesthesia. After the hernia surgery I got Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction. I was unable to think straight, had very high anxety, confusion, afraid to be left alone. My husband has been fantastic.

    It is now eight months after the hernia surgery, and I have improved enough to drive, make plans, and to take care of myself but the brain fog is still there, and I still have some confusion. I still have hard days too but on the way to recovery. I’m so happy I found this site. Thanks for sharing.

    Had hip surgery over 10 months ago and still have cognitive slowdown and high anxiety. Doctor refuses to believe this is related at all to surgery. Am getting the file of the operation drugs just to check what was used. I had asked for the strongest sedation. Can barely work, and functioning the home is difficult. People are impatient with me. Am going to try celaxa to see if this helps the confusion,etc. Anyone have a similar experience? Am also going to try for monetary compensation, as I have barely been able to work and have lost a lot of work bc of this. My orthopedist was not surprised at my condition and asked if I was given too much profotol? He found it funny that I had concentraion problems.

    Rebecca, I know exactly what you mean. I dislocated my shoulder in July 2016. I was put to sleep to put it back in. When I awoke someone put a cast on my arm (It was a fall, and they thought the elbow was fractured). Wrapping the arm pulled the shoulder out. Back to sleep. The next morning I dislocated it a 3rd time getting in the bath. Back to hospital and again went to sleep. Arm sorta fixed. Next day I realized I had terrible memory, was distracted, could no longer spell or locate words I knew. This lasted until Oct 2017 when I visited an IGA super store with a huge health food section with trained personnel. They reccomended Spirulina 1000mg. I take 1 a day but you can take 3. It is blue/green algae and is a super food. My focus and most of my memory returned, and I noticed after a few months I no longer needed glasses. As well, I slept much better and had more energy. It is worth a try. You can buy it online I believe as well. Good Luck.

    I am 63 and had total knee replacement 6 weeks ago and many of the comments are so similar to what I am experiencing. I went back to full work duties including travel and interacting with customers during week 4 post surgery. I found myself unable to recall info that is second nature to me, saying the wrong thing, not remembering names and generally suffering from incoherence and brain fog. During the past few days, I have lost a check that was given to me and then lost my checkbook somewhere in my home. No idea where either are. I give the wrong bowls of food to my dogs and don’t realize it until later. i have to take detailed notes before and after any interactions or tasks and hope to high heaven I remember to look at the notes. I had rotator cuff surgery in 2016 and I don’t remember fogginess being this bad or lasting this long. I will need to have the other knee replaced at some point and I am going to ask the doctor what anesthesia was used this time. If there is another option I am going to ask for it.

    Propofol,Versed,Sevflume(sleeping gas), opioids and antihistamines have all damaged my memory, eye sight and made seasonal allergies worse. My decline started with a surgery in December of 2013 at age 64. The cervical surgery in October of 2014 was horrible. Midazlam was given first, he said after the surgery for anxiety. I woke up before being taken to the operating room. I was paralyzed, couldn’t move or talk or remember talking to my surgeon or the anesthesiologist. I was in total panic!!!! I was also given Propofol and gas. Memory problems, anxiety and insomnia for months and months. Opthalmologist diagnosed me with Esophoria of which I didn’t have before the surgery. It took almost 2 years for my allergies to calm down. I had hestorectomy in Feb of 2016 I was given a spinal block and Presedex (of which wasn’t given permission to give me unless to save my life or if the spinal block wore off). Presedex works more like your natural sleeping mechanism (Melatonin). Nov of 2016 I had total knee replacement. Anesthesiologist insisted on Propofol and gas! My memory way worse and has barely recovered! Allergies horrible, horrible!!!! My memory recovery faster with Presedex!!!!!!!!!!!

    Next month with be 6 years since I was involved in a pretty bad accident with my motorbike in the city. Wasn’t even going more than 25 mph, but a cab cut me off, and I have since had 5 surgeries when I was 45 years old. First surgery only 1 1/2 hours, but the second was 9 hours, third was 6 hours, fourth and fifth were both about 3 hours each. So, the first was adding a fixator and stabilizing me to go home for a few weeks, then the 2nd and 3rd were only 3 days apart. It was after the 3rd that I realized I had memory issues, and boy, was it bad in the beginning. I can recall now that I was being pushed in a wheelchair past an elevator, but having no clue what an elevator was called. I knew that it did, but the name elevator was gone from my memory at that time. Some came back over time, but to this day at 51, I still have a lot of memory issues that I believe are from all of the anesthesia. I can’t recall how to spell things I know, and at times I have changed the sentence to avoid the word. I have trouble remembering things I know. I describe things to my husband and get so frustrated when I have remembered every other detail, for instance, except the name of the movie. Usually, my husband can figure out what I am having trouble with, but at times he can’t, and that’s even more frustrating. It’s improved a great deal over the time, but I know I still have a problem with memory from the surgeries.

    My husband recently had a half knee replacement. He was fine for about six hours after surgery but then became completely confused, seeing things that were not there and not recognising his family.It was terrifying and took three days to get back to normal. After two weeks he still seems a little bit dazed although his concentration is a lot better. Judging by the amount of people writing on this forum, I think patients should be made aware of this before spinal anathetics and strong post operative opiates are administered.

    I underwent 5 surgeries over a course of 2 years to fix some fracture non-unions when i was still in university. When i returned to school, i noticed that i was reading my texts with comprehending; i could read every word out loud from the front to the back of a 12 page essay without understanding what is being said. It was horrifying. Even now 3 years after my accident and half a year since my last surgery, i consantly find myself invaded by mental fog at the most inopportune moment and left open-mouthed facing interviewers, having lost track of what they were asking.

    I am glad I found this website…. I had back surgery 1 1/2 years ago at the laser spine institute in Louisiana. Since then I have memory loss bad. I am 74 yrs old.

    I am still in business with my husband. I am getting customer orders wrong and can’t even remember dates or appointment. Missed another appt. Yesterday even written on my calendar. I told my primary dr. And he sort of giggled.

    Beginning to think I have senile dementia.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    DUMB IN LOUISIANA

    I’m having surgery tomorrow morning (prolapsed bowel) and will BEG the anesthesiologist for Propofol. I hate doing it at the last minute, but when I asked the surg. nurse, she said I must take it up with anesth. I’m out of time if they don’t grant my wish.

    In 2012 my husband had anesthesia for broken bone surgery. Even though he was 82 yrs old, he was given Versed. We didn’t know anything about that particular anesthetic at the time. When he was in recovery, he did breathe on his own…he had to be TOLD to breathe. He would take a breath and then not again. The nurses asked me to help tell him to breathe, and it was an hour and a half before he began breathing on his own. Later I researched Versed on the internet and learned that it should not be administered to elderly people! When will anesthesiologists learn?? Versed should be discontinued. We were told it would keep my husband calm when going into the operating room, but he had shown NO signs of agitation or fear and had been in ORs before without a problem.

    I had a routine colonoscopy with general anesthesia in my mid-sixties. During the following 10 days or so, I suffered two potentially deadly incidents of poor judgement on my routine daily drive to work. In one, I proceeded thru an intersection while the red light I had stopped at was still red. In the other, I drove straight on a left turn only green arrow. As soon as it happened, I realized my ‘goof.” I mentioned this to a couple of friends who reported similar incidents.

    I suspect that the ‘informed consent’ form failed to advise about this.

    For me- 3 colonoscopys with practically euphoric feelings afterwards and no negatives, and then the shoulder surgery and a total leg-arm swelling which crippled me, caused me to fall 2 days afterwards and ripped the shoulder repair, and still I feel I’m not right in cognitive function!

    It’s a shame that a determination can’t be made pre-op to see if the “new” antithesia is right for you!

    Knee replacement is next and propofol is the one and only for me.

    I had multiple surgeries due to a perforated bowel. The reversal was successful and I’ve moved on with my life over the last six years. However, I’ve been diagnosed with essential tremors. I’m male and 58 yrs. Could the anesthetics have triggered this condition?

    Thank you for this very interesting article! It’s not the first time I’ve heard of this post-anesthesia “dementia” problem. I will NEVER allow Versed to be used on me in the future. Actually, due mainly to sports injuries, I’ve had many many surgeries (at least 20) and, fortunately, have never noticed any problems with short-term memory afterward. I’m tempted to think it’s because I take such an extensive daily supplement regimen which I have researched and fine-tuned time and time again. I think it’s so important to take one’s supplements!

    A surgeon told me anesthesia (propofol) clears the body within an hour.

    A neurologist told me long-lasting effects may be due to lacking a gene for an enzyme that clears the anesthetic.

    I’m a nutritionally-interested pharmacist. I’ve had 2 patients report serious cognitive changes following anaesthesia. The more severe of the two underwent 3 surgeries (one for complications) in under 2 months. He was left with poor energy, inability to think and depression – he missed a lot of time at work. 3 years on, he is still on antidepressants but is now happily back at work and functional.

    The last time I had an endoscopy was three years ago, I was given IV propofol, and
    I have had word loss ever since. Some days are worse than others. I’m beginning
    to think the word loss is related to something else, perhaps vascular dementia since
    I’ve had hypertension for over thirty years.

    I too, have had many colonoscopies and endoscopies. The last time I told them NO pain meds or Versed, just Propofol and I woke up much quicker and not groggy for the next 24 hours like I have in the past.

    I want to add my “two cents worth” please. 2 1/2 years ago, I had a 4 hour knee replacement surgery at the age of 57. I was given Versed IV as I was being taken to the Operating Room. Since that time, I too, have had short term memory loss, getting worse. I did not have this before and frighteningly, it is not getting better and perhaps worse. Speak up about anesthesia concerns BEFORE the surgery please! This is scary and embarrassing!

    I’d love to see an article on anesthesia as it pertains to those of us who have cessation of breathing problems, especially Sleep Apnea. I have what appears to be Central Sleep Apnea and I’ve been putting off important procedures like colonoscopy & endoscopy because of my fear of getting general anesthesia and how it might affect my ability to breathe on my own after the anesthesia wears off.

    My husband has had two knee replacements and one knee revision since March 2014. He remembered very little from his first hospital stay and for a few days after, but then seemed to recover well. Thank goodness I was with him for many hours each day since he had no recollection of conversations with the nurses or PTs. He also experienced incontinence for a few days following the first surgery, but I don’t know if it was connected. He had no problems after the following two surgeries, but I also don’t know what anesthesia he was given. He was only in surgery for about an hour or less for each procedure. I am facing knee replacement soon and will have a thorough discussion with the anesthesiologist beforehand since I go into a very deep sleep from most any type of anesthesia, even the “twilight” sleep normally used for a colonoscopy.

    When I had Open Heart surgery in 2011 to repair my mitral,valve, tie off my Left Atrial Appendage, and perform a modified Maze procedure, I was on the heart-lung machine for about 4 hours.afterward, I found I had forgotten how to knit! I have been knitting for over 50 years, but could not figure out to even hold the needles. I couldn’t prepare my daily meds without confusion. It took several months for me to be able to knit or remember daily needs.I was not prepared by my doctors for this memory loss after anesthetia. I also continue to have Visual Auras with spinning lights in both eyes 5 years later. Thanks for bringing this misuse forward.

    Awoke from regional spinal tap two hour surgery two months ago with extensive hearing loss & unable to speak with enough volume to be heard. Four days later my hearing was still poor & could barely speak on phone. Drastically reduced norcor pain dosage by one third, began nebulizer treatments twice/day. Surgeon wanted me released; I fought for extension to have ENT exams and speech therapy in rehab.
    My hearing loss is permanent although the cotton head feeling (as with head cold) is gone. Practice voice therapy each eve — slowly recovering volume.
    My assigned anesthesiologist did not show up for operation: another, whom I had never met & not from same practice, met me as I was beginning sedation to ask what kind of anesthesia we were doing. I told him to consult my records or phone my assigned doctor.
    Finally received his bill. Surgeon’s office said they didn’t know his name!?! Will be calling him for records early in New Year & decide what to do from there.
    Caution: if you can avoid general anesthesia, do.

    With my first surgery, bone spurs on both feet, I was given a “cocktail” of Valium to help me respond to the anesthesia. I had brain fog for six months, felt like I was outside myself looking on. The second surgery, also on my foot, they cut the “cocktail” in half. Three months of fog. My third surgery I refused the Valium cocktail, no fog, no confusion. Have refused it ever since and done fine with whatever anesthesia I was given which I believe was the propofol.

    I had a very short procedure to repair an umbilical hernia–about 45 minutes. Before the surgery I heard the surgeon ask the anesthesiologist to add a tranquilizer. After the surgery I had a very hard time waking up, and had a lot of memory problems that still last 3 months later. I’m functional, but forget the names of streets, places, things, and people. Very annoying.

    I had breast cancer surgery (with removal of all lymph glands) last August. Before the surgery I discussed possible cognitive loss resulting from the anaesthetic because of my age, 86. Two anaesthesiologists informed me that cognitive problems do not result from the anaesthetic. They arise from the surgery, itself. This “denial” flies in the face of what I’ve observed among friends, post-surgery. (I think they feel they are getting a bad rap on cognitive problems.) I’ve had some cognitive losses since the surgery, compounded by a fall last month. I’m hoping for improvement. Patricia J.

    I spoke with an anesthesiologist before a colonoscopy about why they use Versed, considering its apparent connection to POCD. He said it is the best thing to remove a patient’s memory of the surgery. I said I would rather remember every detail of my colonoscopy (yuk!) than have any memory issues afterward. I suspect that some patients react differently to Versed than others, as Pat K. attested to in her comment above. I am very sensitive to drugs and require a much smaller dose of everything than the average person of my size. An anesthesiologist who has never met you would have no way of knowing this, so it would be smart to tell him/her how you react to drugs.

    It is interesting that at last we are talking publicly about what has been known privately for years and years. I discovered memory loss (lasting for three months) in friends who had experienced open-heart surgery. I also found whenever I had anesthesia I would suffer memory loss that would prove embarrassing. As a college professor who could lecture for hours with hardly any notes before me, I found it necessary to type out my lectures in advance and hand them out just to be sure I had covered everything. (Of course class attendance drops off after starting this practice because students pass on your lectures to their friends so they won’t have to go to class and take notes!) Another memory-loss event that is unmentioned publicly is when Neurontin, an anti-seizure drug, is prescribed for pain. It was prescribed to me for leg pain. But after just one pill I could not keep my thoughts organized on a subject in which I have two degrees! This was not a memory loss but was a scrambling of the ability to think logically—especially when being asked questions. I had to dismiss my classes for several days until it got out of my system. Then I threw the bottle away! Another antiseizure drug now prescribed for pain, Lyrica, can put you to sleep in the middle of the day while waiting for a light to change. Cars pass you by blowing their horns with the drivers shaking their fists! This actually happened to me. I believe that falling asleep at the wheel while on Lyrica—and hurting someone in an accident—might result in being found contributorily negligent! But the TV commercials make it seem so exciting to go on Lyrica that viewers probably wish they had enough pain to get a prescription! But I threw my Lyrica bottle away too!

    In April 2016 I had a total knee replacement (TKR) surgery. I do not know which anesthesia was used. From the standpoint of the knee, the surgery went well, but upon awakening and in the time that followed I discovered that my balance and stability were seriously compromised. An online search revealed the med-speak term to be “disequilibrium”. I had assumed something associated with the anesthesia had messed up my inner ear somehow. The surgeon had not previously seen this and was clueless. Subsequent visits to two ENT physicians revealed no inner ear issues and no clues as to what was going on. Now some eight months later the situation is better but still present and I still have no idea what caused it or what to do about it.

    Bill from Houston, with “disequilibrium”. I’m 40 years old and was sedated a few weeks again. I’m having the same problem. Did you ever figure anything out? I’m in College Station. Any doctors you could recommend in the Houston area? Please contact me if you have any info.

    When will the health professionals stop treating adults like children? Anesthesia is not “sleep.” We do not “go to sleep” prior to surgery. We are put into a coma that paralyzes our nerves and muscles and can affect breathing and heart function. It is not surprising that drugs powerful enough to do this can have lasting effects on the brain. It is unfortunate that the complications of anesthesia are rarely discussed and can be devastating.

    When I had open heart surgery 43 years ago, my surgeon told me My memory would be bad. It was. The idea that anesthesia can cause memory problems was well known at that time. What he didn’t tell me until a year later was the problem with depression which it also causes. I was extremely depressed for a long time.

    I had a 2 hour surgery in 2014 and had cognitive impairment for at least 6wks. I was not able to add 2 numbers together.
    Since then, I have had a genetic test and have the MTHFR genotype that interferes with methylation process.
    When I needed another surgery (this time a spinal) I told the Anesthesiologist about MTHFR and brain impairment he said I should never have Nitrous Oxide with the MTHFR mutation.
    He actually emailed 2 articles to me about the genotype and nitrous oxide.
    There are 2 forms of the genotype and some people are higher Risk of brain impairment.
    A young child died after NO2 use – this child had both forms of the MTHFR genetic mutation.

    My mother suffered persistent brain fog [POCD] after elective surgery. The anesthesiologist did not discuss the possibility prior to the surgery, which I believe is reprehensible. Patients have a right to know what might happen, not just as a result of the surgical procedure, but also as a result the meds and anesthesia chosen. When one is given a prescription at the pharmacy, information about possible side effects are required to be provided. Why not for anesthesia? Some anesthesiologists just use their own preferred products, either for ease or familiarity. Maybe they need more ongoing education.

    Biggest problem with anesthesia for surgery (broken leg and then hip replacement) was my hair turned totally white as snow lost natural curl and keeps falling out. Still not curly after over a year; of course at my age (80) I’m just glad I still have a little hair. I’ve always been an active senior woman (line dancing and yoga for 25 years) but now of course am on a cane thanks to miserable hospital care and tons of pain due to a gamma nail inserted through broken femur into my pubic area (Jan 2014), which I had removed with hip replacement a year later (April 2015). Able to do some exercises now on a walker and hoping to get into a chair dance class soon.

    We have sadly seen the progression of Alzheimer’s in our neighbor after repeated surgeries for broken bones. Every time he had anesthesia he lost more mental capacity.

    I had a bad experience with Versed during a colonoscopy. I had nightmares for weeks afterwards of the horrible pain of the procedure as it did not knock me out, I was in pain and begging the doctor to stop during the entire event. A year later I had dental surgery and the oral surgeon wanted to use Versed. I said NO WAY, I am allergic to it. (Claim a drug allergy and they won’t insist). So I had Valium and it worked fine. No nightmares, no brain fog.

    Four months ago, my husband had to have an emergency appendectomy. Because of previous knowledge that he responds to the extreme with anesthesia, I asked the doctor questions. He basically blew me off when I tried to tell him, and inquired about IV anesthesia ( he was having the surgery by laparoscope).

    My husband has been severely damaged by this. A neurologist saw him 5 days after the surgery (he was out of the hospital), and said he was not the same person the doctor had seen less than 30 days before.

    After 10 weeks of at home PT, OT, and speech therapy, and 12 days in a PT facility he still has problems, especially difficult are the physical ones

    My husband had worked 55+ hours, was driving, and had a very productive life less than 72 hours prior to the anesthesia. He has had CT, MRI and other tests that prove he did not have a stroke. Now he no longer drives, has ‘brain fog’ and given his age (70) this has taken a toll on his total physical health

    My doctor told me I am allergic to nitrous oxide. If I need surgery I give them the letter from the doctor stating I should not be given nitrous oxide. It is a methylation problem.

    I had a total hip replacement 2 months ago and have had no memory issues or brain fog. I’m not sure what they used for anesthesia but no problems.I’m 74.

    Three years I had colon cancer surgery, a 3 hour operation. My memory has definitely not been the same since. Before I went in the hospital, I was a wizard at all the games of skill and general knowledge, but definitely not any more. It isn’t getting better, nor is it getting worse. I think the damage was done by the anaesthetic at the time, and I’m not going to get any better and hopefully no worse. When I’m tired, it’s much worse and I’m embarrassed to be searching for simple words.. I used to be a scholar, but not any more. People are looking at me pityingly. Very difficult.

    I had a common surgery and was given Versed before going in and inhaled anesthesia during surgery. Since I have done quite well on injected propofol 3x before for outpatient surgery, I asked the anesthesiologist to use propofol but he refused, saying thta it would not put me under “deep” enough. I awoke after surgery in full dementia and was unable to think straight, focus, or remember much recover until 4 weeks later. At the time I blamed the GABA supplement I was taking I recovered within 24 hrs after stopping it), but now I’m thinking it was the Versed.

    I’ve been “put under” for numerous reasons over the years. I’ve been told several times that I was hard to wake up. I have severe concentration problems and memory problems. I had surgery after having my jaw fractured in 2 places. I don’t know how long the surgery lasted but when I finally regained consciousness my surgeon who had been snapping his thumb in my face was truly relieved when I woke. That was in the early 70’s. My memory for basically the rest of the 70’s is so bad that I can’t remember one single moment of my wedding in 74 and I remember about a total 5 minutes of my 4 year marriage. I looked at wedding photos years later…hoping to remember something. It was like looking at someone else’s wedding…I swear…I don’t remember one moment of the wedding. I was knocked unconscious in the accident but MRI’s since reveal no “TBI” according to the doctors. I can really only remember the majority of the last year of the 70’s. But there are memory lapses since then…where I’m missing chunks of time. And like I mentioned in the beginning my ability to concentrate is almost nil. I have been diagnosed with ADD but I’m not so sure about that. I did have problems paying attention to the teachers but I think that was just lack of interest. I could still go to movies…watch various events and stay interested in things. All of which is almost impossible these days. Even writing this is I must really force myself to stay with it and I’m reaching the point of…”okay…no more very quickly. Maybe I should also add that I also have been diagnosed with OCD. Some of my doctors blame that for my concentration problems and question the ADD!
    I’ve gone on much too long here and I doubt anyone will take the time to read all this rambling on. I sure as hell wouldn’t!

    I have had 25+ surgeries and have suffered severe mental confusion with each one. From having so many surgeries, I now believe that the mental confusion is permanent. It is so sad.

    If your thoughts ramble, then you’re in perfect company. Your symptoms sound just like me. And your info was helpful to me.

    I have had several colonoscopies because of family history of colon cancer. This past July I addressed my POCD in detail with my anesthesiologist. I had to convince him to decrease the amount he would normally administer because of my need for less than the suggested dosages of many medications. (A 12 hour pill lasts 24-48 hours for me.) I could never return to work or normal activities the day after my procedure. I convinced him to decrease the amount, not to dose me based on my weight.

    It worked! I was able to think and speak coherently and drive. When I woke up from the procedure I could immediately tell the difference in my functioning. But I did have some minor residual memory problems for a while.

    So I think the POCD problem is possibly related to the sensitivity of a patient’s immune system.

    I have had several colonoscopies because of family history of colon cancer. This past July I addressed my POCD in detail with my anesthesiologist. I had to convince him to decrease the amount he would normally administer because of my need for less than the suggested dosages of many medications. (A 12 hour pill lasts 24-48 hours for me.) I could never return to work or normal activities the day after my procedure. I convinced him to decrease the amount, not to dose me based on my weight. It worked! But I did have some residual memory problems for a while.
    So I think the POCD problem is possibly related to the sensitivity of a patient’s immune system.

    In 2012 I had a neck operation, the op. should have taken approximately 2 hrs. however, one of the bags containing the sterilised surgical instruments had a hole in it, therefore these instruments couldn’t be used. I learnt afterwards that because I had had 3 op. cancellations they were anxious not to add another cancellation. The team decided to search for sterile instruments from other hospitals. I was anesthetised for 9 hours and woke with tinnitus in one ear, it’s mild but I could do without it. I don’t know which anaesthetic they used.

    My husband a year and a half later after a massive dose of cortisone for bronchospasm in hospital has still got dementia quite badly. Please can somebody do a study on steroids.

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