The People's Perspective on Medicine

Does General Anesthesia Affect Brain Function?

Many older people report cognitive decline following major surgery and general anesthesia. Does the anesthetic used affect brain function?

Q. I know two senior citizens (in their 70s) who had misadventures with surgical anesthesia. They are both rapidly losing their short-term memory.

Do specific anesthesia drugs cause this in genetically susceptible individuals? Or would this result from lack of sufficient oxygen during surgery or its aftermath?

A. This is a very controversial question. Anesthesiologists disagree about how commonly people experience post-operative cognitive decline and how long it may last. Some experts insist that most patients recover their normal mental function within three months (British Journal of Anaesthesia, March, 2014), while others fear that nervous system injury is often permanent (British Journal of Anaesthesia, online Sep. 8, 2014).

They are all struggling to answer your questions, but no definitive cause has been identified. One review suggests that the inhaled anesthetic sevoflurane is associated with more post-operative cognitive decline than IV propofol (Clinical Interventions in Aging, online Sept. 24, 2014). One reader reported:

“I’ve had several elective procedures with propofol and no resulting cognitive problems. I’m a 75-year-old male.”

This is just one case, but it points up the importance of talking in advance of the surgery with the anesthesiologist. Find out the type of anesthesia that is being planned for any elective surgery . We had a conversation several months ago with one of the leading anesthesiologists in the country. He confided to us that he prefers propofol when it is appropriate because he sees less cognitive impairment in his patients afterwards.

Here is Loretta’s story:

“At 35, I broke my arm in a car accident and had to undergo surgery. Afterwards, my short-term memory was clearly affected and finally after about 3 weeks of cognitive difficulties, I called my surgeon’s office, desperate to see if my memory problems could be in any way related to my surgery. The nurse immediately said that it was from the anesthesia and that it would diminish in several months. It did.

“After a colonoscopy years later I experienced the same diminished cognitive state post-procedure. It was significant enough that when I had to have a hysterectomy at 55, I asked my OB/Gyn if I could have an epidural instead of going under. She recommended against that.

“Finally, I asked an anesthetist who recommended I request propofol only-no Versed [midazolam]. Apparently Versed is a drug that keeps one from having any memories of the procedure (should one become conscious at any time during the surgery).

“The propofol worked beautifully for me and I had no cognitive complications post-op. Was it the Versed causing my memory problems? I don’t know. I do know that I won’t ever willingly allow it to be used again. I’m curious to hear whether others have had similar experiences with Versed.”

Share your own experience with general anesthesia in the comment section (“What Do You Think?”) below.

 

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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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    4 days ago, I was given general anesthesia for a cystoscopy & bloodwork; I have Autism & EXTREME fear of needles; when I woke, I was fine, or so I thought. 3 days later, I started noticing I was having trouble speaking clearly, next came trouble typing & texting, I’m 31 yrs old & live with my mother. I don’t know if she noticed my speech problems til I told her. She said she will call my doctor when she can; she works front desk at an orthopedic surgeon’s office; I’m worried, because 4 yrs ago, I was given general anesthetic for a colonoscopy & bloodwork, never had any problems like this then. I hope whatever is causing this goes away on its own & soon.

    4 days ago, I was given general anesthesia to have a cystoscopy & bloodworm. I have Autism & EXTREME fear of needles; When I woke, I was fine, or so I thought. 3 days later, I started having trouble speaking clearly. I soon started having trouble typing or texting. I’m 31 yrs old & live with my mother. At first, I don’t think she noticed my speech problems, til I told her. she said she will call my doctor when she can; she works front desk at an orthopedic surgeon’s office; I did research on my speech problem. I really hope whatever is going on will go away on its own & SOON! (I’m worried because I was given general anesthetic 5 yrs ago for a colonoscopy & bloodworm, and never had anything like this happen.)

    OVER THE PAST 12 MONTHS I HAVE HAD SIX INJECTIONS FOR PAIN. EACH TIME I WAS GIVEN ANESTESIA WHICH WAS NOT TO PUT ME OUT 100% BUT THAT WAS NOT THE CASE. I WAS “OUT” COMPLETLY. I AM NOW HAVING SERIOUS MEMORY LOSS AND THINK THERE IS A CONNECTION.

    I am 73, have had many operations such as a lamenectomy, knee reconstructions and replacement, massive rotator cuff surgery, etc. all with general anesthesia and memory has always bothered me with or without. A few months ago I had a 4 hr low back fusion surgery, oxygen level dipped 2 days later and numerous pulmonary embolisms in both lungs developed. 8 days later a huge hematoma developed next to the Incision. Again I went under to open the incision and remove a plum size clot. I was finally discharged 23 days in hospital. My memory was absolutely exacerbated and so frustrating!

    Exactly 4 weeks later a speech therapist was recommended to help me with memory. Instead of helping me, She tested me at home 3 x about 15 to 20 min each like recalling numbers or a brief story or a math quiz…all of which had always given me difficulty. She then sent referrals to my surgeon and family Dr about my poor cognitive skills and to see a Neuro Psyche and that I should not drive because I might not react! I have been driving for at least 6 weeks and insist that my short term memory problem of many years does not affect my driving ability of 60 years! My 41 and 43 year old daughter and son agree. It is recorded with that woman’s health organization that I should not drive! I am afraid to have more cognitive testing which I could easily fail again and if I had an accident a year from now, find myself in a devastating law suit! I’m told in order to have a drivers test, I need an OT to test and then refer or not. Any helpful ideas would be greatly appreciated! Kiddie B.

    I think this is a widespread and serious problem. I assumed it affected mostly the elderly, but the comments posted here would indicate otherwise.

    I had cataract surgery in 2011, during which I was given Versed. I was 68. After the first eye was done I experienced memory problems, so I asked if they could do the second eye without Versed. I was told they would use the “absolute minimum” amount of the drug. Whatever amount they used left me with short-term memory issues that continue today, six years later.

    In addition, I developed a mood disorder after the surgery, becoming profoundly depressed in the morning and terribly anxious at night. After several weeks this was accompanied by suicidal thoughts. At first I didn’t realize it was caused by the Versed, but when the moods finally lifted (after about a month) I remembered reading that Versed could cause agitation. I wondered if it could cause other things, so I looked it up online. I found entire websites devoted to warnings about Versed. Many people reported their own versions of what I had experienced, and some told of relatives who didn’t recover. I will NEVER allow Versed to be used on me again.

    My husband & I are both very fit (66 and 70) – both of us had 1 cataract removed within the last month. Both of us are also experiencing some low mood and forgetfulness that we didn’t have before. I’m here researching others’ experiences & comments. Just wanted to add my 2 cents, in case others need to know. Cataract removal is very very fast, and I’m sure we rec’d small amount of propofol, but not sure about versed. I will ask the Dr., for our benefit, but just wanted to post and add our voice.

    My father had a major surgery this month and when he started to awaken in the recovery room he said he had to go to the bathroom and tried to get out of bed so they sedated him with Versed. They said that when he then recovered from the sedation he once again tried to get up so they sedated him again.

    My mom wasn’t told until after the second time — when we were in the waiting room asking why it had been four hours in recovery when they’d told us it’d be an hour. My mom said to stop sedating him. The nurse responded, “We don’t have a room ready in ICU yet anyhow.”

    After 6 and a half hours in recovery, we were finally able to see him and he was catatonic. They then told us they’d given him a sedative a third time! His blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels were all extremely low. Mom got very upset and insisted they call his surgeon.

    The surgeon said he gave no order for the sedations and he came into his room in the ICU and somehow “reversed” the sedative. My dad woke up and was able to say his name and d.o.b. then but did not know who my mom was. He then fell bask to sleep for almost two days. They told us he had CO2 build up from the sedatives and we’d just need to wait it out.

    It’s now been 12 days and he only opens his eyes a few times a day and cannot recognize any of us.

    I had a colonoscopy in September of last year at age 54. They gave me 470 mg of Propofol and 20 mg of Lidocaine. It was administered by a CRNA when the manufacturer of this drug specifically requires that it should be administered by physician anesthesiologist. Unlike a previous procedure, they did not ask me my name or the date, the president or any questions after I woke up. Since then my short term memory has been terrible. The wrong words come out for example when I intend to say “internet, but say interstate”. I have trouble concentrating and there are times when I am searching for the right word. It is very frightening and depressing. Hoping this will improve.

    I had versed combined with fentanyl less than a week ago. My memory, focus, and intelligence have been diminished. My thinking processes have been slowed down substantially. I also suffered high fever and violent chills for hours beginning about four hours after administration of the drugs in combination. The chills came first. I felt absolutely horrible. I also had head pain. The use of these drugs, (together at least) should be completely banned in my opinion. I had propofol the day after the procedure at a different hospital and suffered no ill affects whatsoever. I am outraged.

    Well I am writing this as a person experiencing extreme memory problems at an early age. I was in a motorcycle accident that nearly killed me when I was 19. I was life flighted to Arrowhead Regional in Colton ,Ca and over three years time went through 21 surgeries to repair my body and received multiple induces of anesthetics to undergo these surgeries.

    I am 29 years old now and my memory gets worse and worse as time goes on. I can barely remember anything from my childhood and even my short term is drastically affected as I can meet someone and then three weeks later forget I even met them. It is very frustrating and getting depressing. Wish there was a remedy for it.

    I was given pre-op Versed and then an overdose of Fentanyl while in the recovery room. I am extremely angry because I have no memory of even being in recovery. They said I told them I had pain when in reality I had a nerve block so could not have had pain. They continued to give me Fentanyl even after being unresponsive. My first recollection was when I woke up standing up with someone dressing me. The next thing I know I am being put in the car with a monster headache and nausea. I feel absolutely traumatized by not having any memory of what went on in the entire recovery period. I will never allow myself to be given Versed or Fentanyl again. I found out later that the overdose of Fentanyl caused the folks in recovery to have to do an emergency EKG because they didn’t know what was going on with my heart. The EKG was abnormal but I was sent home anyway.

    i had a parathyroid gland removed the middle of Sept. It is now the first of November and researching memory loss and general anesthesia I came on this site. I have always been proud of my intelligence and ability to articulate ideas. Sine the surgery (I’m 65) I have felt increibly slowed down. I have a difficult time meditating, loss for words to express myself and short term memory problems. I had no idea gen anesthesia could have such a negative effect. They damaged a vocal chord nerve during surgery so my voice is also very weak. Even found myself stuttering right after surgery. I don’t know what they used but plan on finding out. Its been 2 months so hopefully, with time it will get better. My voice is getting a little better and had considered getting a treatment for it which requried gen anesthesia. After reading everyones comments, I’m going to pass on that option and do speech therapy. Good luck to all. It is very troubling and depressing to not have the full function of my mind. I feel for everyone with this problem.

    My husband had 5 knee surgeries in 9 months, was put under anesthesia 5 times, I’m not sure what was used to put him under, but was asked if he had sleep apnea, but his memory and confusion has been terrible, some days seem better, he had a brain scan, MRI , and they found nothing, Do you think this is from anesthesia or is something more serious going on, he takes care of himself during day, while I’m at work, but I do have to remind him of things, sometimes several times, leave him notes, what day it is, that I am at work, etc, is my husband ever gonna get better, some days he seems good, and says he worries about me

    My son is 15 years old and went under surgery with anaesthesia 5 weeks ago since then. He has memory loss, is disconnected, off topic and is having trouble concentrating, and has trouble sleeping. Says he could hear everything as a wall crack the clock ticking sounds loud. I am getting no help from the hospital. They seem to be ignoring the issue.

    My father had surgery at faulkner hospital at age of 70. Now almost 4 years latter he has completely lost short term memory, doesn’t remember anything that happened in the past 20 years. Unable to think or take care of basic needs. General anesthesia can be a disaster for older patients. Dying of cancer is more natural

    I’m having the same issues after anesthesia: memory loss, can’t concentrate, going back over things. I thought is was me. I had no idea that going under had side effects. I’m glad I found out I’m not the only one. I didn’t wake up for a long time while my sister and my kids were there. I finally woke up to a surgeon putting a light in my eyes and calling my name. I never felt like myself after that.

    I had neck surgery in 2008. I had numerous bladder surgeries and a hysterectomy previous to this with no postoperative memory loss. I was 43 at the time of this cervical procedure. I came out of surgery with trouble breathing on my own and later diagnosed with sleep apnea and need a cpap machine since as I have severe apnea.

    After surgery I had severe short term memory loss and repeated things over again. I confused my kids names and had a hard time keeping a calendar and appointments without checking continuously. I need to write reminders everyday of what to do each day. I needed back surgery in 2015 for severe spinal stenosis that was causing nerve damage to the legs and extreme pain at night. They forgot to use my cpap machine during post op. I woke up long enough to say I was dying because I couldn’t breathe. They then tracked down my machine and made it into a bi-pap with oxygen going in. I had immediate mood disorder and paranoia following surgery. I lost my nails due to low oxygen level which was very painful. I have since been tested for cognitive impairment by a psychologist.

    My short term memory is severely damaged. My processing time is excellent still and I even completed a bachelor degree since. But I cannot remember things within five or ten minutes of time unless I write them down which is beginning to be a major hassle. To make things work my kids were told my memory loss was from my rx pill use that I have dropped to lowest possible Tyl 3 upon request as I don’t want to be labeled an opiate user even though I wake up ever night in pain still from Ankylosing spondelothesis and pain in my back which will be lifelong.

    I would not recommend surgery for apnea patients unless close monitoring. Also versed and propyfyl both block memory which I believe can be long lasting. I can no longer work at a job requiring memory skills or multi tasking. I am 58 and feel like I am a 79 year old when I can’t remember a grandchild’a name or where I parked my car. I believe a major study should be done to determine an appropriate class of anesthesia for older patients and patients with sleep apnea. Perhaps a group of family members can go to Congress and require regulations to prevent the surge of dementia cases and Alzheimer’s post op. My best friend lost her peripheral vision and is legally blind following a surgery to remove a cyst from her face and needs someone to walk her everywhere. She also cannot remember anything we talk about since this surgery. Her husband is under incredible stress with her care and she is not allowed to hold her grandchildren less she forget to continue holding them and drop them. This has been hard to watch happen to someone who held leadership positions in both jobs and volunteer board positions.

    This will become major problem in the near future unless more is done to research better surgical anesthesiology. I know my life is changed forever and I worry the same for my children’s in the future.

    Post op spinal fusion with 3 laminectomies. I asked the surgeon if there was anyway not to have anesthesia, he said no. Going through the doom, gloom, fog still! I am sad and emotional and I know it will pass. It is getting better but still have a really hard time with multi tasking, especially if it is dealing with insurance companies or taxes. This is the hardest part of the surgery, not the pain!

    I had surgery on my pancreas in Feb of 2008. In the past after recovering from attacks of pain from pancreatitis and having to use painkillers it usually took me about a month to feel back to normal. I had always used conscious sedation for the endoscopies and this surgery called for general anesthesia- the first time I required that since my gall bladder surgery in 1987. Anyway, it has now been almost 8 years and I still have not felt normal. I feel incredibly depressed and nothing makes it better. It is physically painful as well as emotionally. Like I have the flu or a hangover. It is miserable. I can only assume it is the meds but mostly the anesthesia causing this problem for me. It’s like the anesthesia caused irreversible brain damage causing me to feel suicidally depressed and physically miserable.

    My wife had to be intubated because of a cyst that became septic.
    They gave her Propofol. She was on the medication for 4 days at 50%.
    Because of the tubes in her mouth they didn’t want her to wake up and pull the tubes out. After 4 days they pulled the tubes out and took her off the meds. My wife was fine before receiving Propofol.

    After taking her off the drug, I was told she would regain consciousness within an a hour. But after three days she still was unconscious and not moving. The doctor said that because she was a heavy woman it might take up to a week. After 7 days she began to move a bit but was still in a coma-like state. After I talked with the doctor they decided to do a brain scan and found nothing abnormal. The doctors were starting to run out of answers.

    They said she might have Propofol injection syndrome, and they said the best place for her would be in rehab. They just wanted to get her out of the hospital. After 12 days she opened her eyes, and in 15 days she started talking a bit. I put her in rehab, and it took 45 to 60 days after that before she came home and still had physical problems.

    Two weeks ago she had to have emergency surgery, and I told them
    “No Propofol.” The doctor didn’t use Propofol, but he did use something else–Versed.

    When my wife came back from surgery the doctor said everything was good. After 3 days they removed her tubes and turned off the medication. But my wife is still in a coma. Her stats are good, and the doctor said to give her time.

    Just to let everyone know: Although Propofol and Versed are different drugs, and both are drugs of choice in most medical facilities, those drugs do the same thing.

    They don’t take away pain, and they do not relax you. They block/remove your memory maybe–not permanently and in most cases without damaging your brain. And they also have other affects. I have documented proof, and my wife can attest to it. With luck she may come out of this.

    These really are questionable drugs at best.
    Beware what you let into your body or who puts it into you

    In 2009 I had my gallbladder taken out , which was November of that year . In December of that same year I was shoveling snow and my heart rate and respiratory rate went up and it was found that I had a ruptured thoracic aneurysm (located in my right atrium ) . I had open heart January 3rd of 2010 .

    I was under for almost 5 hours and my memory for words and initially names of even my husband and son I had to think about . Now 5 years later I still have to stop in the middle of sentences to think of the next word in the sentence , try to visualize what I am talking about . I have had 6 different surgeries in my life for TMJ , female business , D&C after a miscarriage , gallbladder and the open heart which I was put under for all of them . I am in good shape for a 67 year old but my memory is bad . I will need a knee replacement because I have severe osteoporosis and my knee has bone on bone . I am now so worried about anesthesia again ! I never thought about all of this and worked in a hospital for 30 years 10 of it as a respiratory therapist and had never heard of this in that training . It’s to bad this wasn’t ever explained at any of them !

    I had surgery about 1 1/2 months ago. I don’t know if I was given Versed, but my memory is different enough that it’s causing me to worry about dementia onset. I’m 47, & my brother had early onset dementia. I’ve also been thinking it could be from the anesthesia. Worried I’ll never “come back.”

    I recently had robotic surgery for prolapsed uterus and bladder. I have had three brain surgeries in the past and because of those I have written a list of current medications and past surgeries so that any surgeons or physicians will know my background and form their decisions accordingly. When I was in surgery for the uterus and bladder problem the attending anesthetists was in disagreement with my surgeon in placing me on a slant board at a full 60 degree angle for my surgery because he was aware of my history. I still do not know if I underwent surgery at that angle or if there was a compromise between the surgeon and the anesthetists. Afterwards while in the hospital I got up at night and wandered about until I was found and taken back to my room. Once at home and for several months I have experienced memory loss and continue to do so. I am at a loss as to what to do about this. I hope it is not permanent.

    The best available technology to avoid anesthesia over medication is a BIS/EMG brain monitor.

    Vital signs, while important, only reflect brain stem activity but anesthetics medicate the higher cortical regions. Prior to 1996, there was no available direct brain response monitor available.

    A great deal of media is directed at awareness under anesthesia. As traumatic as that rare experience can be, NO ONE dies from it. On the other hand, one American patient dies every day from anesthesia over medication. Li G, et al: Epidemiology of Anesthesia-related Mortality in the United States, 1999–2005. Anesthesiology 2009;110:759-65.

    The public education message of my non-profit Goldilocks Anesthesia Foundation is simple:

    NO major surgery under anesthesia WITHOUT a brain monitor.

    Watch You Tube Going under with Goldilocks anesthesia to see how simply & safely this can be done.

    Read “Getting Over Going Under, 5 things you MUST know before anesthesia.” Complimentary copies from drfriedberg@drfriedberg.com

    DISCLAIMER: Neither I, nor my foundation, receive financial support from the BIS monitor maker.

    I’m 18 years old and I’ve also experienced things like being forgetfulness specially in small things or tasks that I should be doing the next hour.

    I also noticed that I cannot concentrate properly.

    I had a 7 hour surgery 2 weeks ago and the brain fog following is getting more frustrating every day. I am 40 with 4 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.

    I’ve had several endoscopies and colonoscopies, always having Versed. I never had a problem even when in my 60’s and early 70’s. I recovered quickly. I truly believe this is an individual medical problem and should not be thought to affect all people the same.

    About 3 years ago I experienced rather severe short-term memory impairment, which scared the crap out of me! I still don’t know the exact cause, but I’d had significant exposure to molds/mildew, and also high exposure to mercury (I had many mercury fillings, and a number of teeth had broken, exposing much more mercury than just the top of the filling). I also was very stressed, due to an employment/finance crises among other things.
    Things are much better now! I studied up on “rebuilding telomeres.” I understand that most memory problems are actually caused by telomeres unravelling, due to the influence of toxic substances, stress, etc. I took the astralagus! (and followed package instructions re dosage). I don’t know exactly what made the difference, but almost all my memory problems are gone now. YAY! By the way, I am female, 66 years old.

    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 4 weeks I returned to work part time but was almost disfunctional because I could not remeber SH**!. Now after 18 months my memory is still not completely back to normal and it still sucks, but at least I am functional!

    I’ve had two general surgeries in two years, and a couple of colonoscopies and no kidding I feel as if I am in rapidly moving along into Alzheimer’s or some dementia. My memory is terrible now and I have aphasia where I am wracking my brains for words. It’s terrible, especially because I had such a great memory until a couple of years ago, and I see this decline in myself. I am having another surgery in the spring, and certainly plan to bring this up with the surgeon. Wish me luck.

    I also had knee replacement in 2013. I was 65. I also had complications and 6 hrs of anesthesia (unk what kind) and had no shot 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.

    I am 8 weeks post op 3.5 hours stent surgery, 78 years male. Did experience memory and mental functional problems. Just about back to normal and was happy to read about propofol….. until I read the comment about nightmares, etc. Still favor the pure propofol theory.

    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 anesthesia was used, but I will find out and try to avoid it in the future.

    A follow-up: 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. Ask for Propofol….it works MUCH better.

    I am a home health occupational therapist and have seen many instances of what appears to be increased cognitive/memory impairment after surgeries – particularly in seniors since that is the population I work with – and have often wondered if anesthesia may be the cause. It would be an excellent topic for further research. I would love to see elective surgery subjects tested before and a week after the procedure, then again at 3 mos, 6 mos, and a year. Preferably the testing would involve a tool that OT’s use frequently – the Allen Cognitive Screening Test, as well as some brief language/memory tests. I find that the Allen is quite sensitive to impairments in working memory which have a profound effect on daily function. As I don’t see people before their surgery, I often don’t know how they were functioning before the decline, and whether they were having a little trouble managing even prior to the procedure. Sometimes that does seem to be the case, but other times it seems like the surgery has really changed things for them and may even be the cause of needing to move to a higher level of care.

    It shouldn’t be in the least controversial at this point. Just google it and you will find literally thousands of reports by actual doctors (yes, real doctors, not just playing the part on TV) attesting to the issue of anesthesia triggering permanent dementia in people aged 60 and over.

    I’ve worked with elders with dementia for nearly a quarter century now and many of them first manifest after full anesthesia surgery. That’s why so many surgeons specialising in hip replacement, cataract surgery, and other surgeries more typical for elders do alternatives to general anesthesia.

    Are you seriously suggesting this as a new topic? I really like your work in general but I’m astonished you post this particular story as if you thought it was either a) new or b) in question any more.

    Hi – Please can you give some help. My mum had anaesthetic & now thinks she may have POCD or potentially going into dementia (Car crash 12 months ago, broken wrist & 16 hours of surgery under the anaesthetic)

    What do you recommend as practical advice to get a good review?
    Thanks so much

    I had a similar experience after a colonoscopy. It felt like mental fog and low mood/depression. What a relief to understand the reason why. My cousin had full anesthesia for surgery and has been experiencing low mood/depression ever since. It’s been two months. Informed Consent should be a patient right. Who knew we have the right to specify no Versed?! Good idea.

    In 2011, at age 65, I had surgery to repair a broken wrist. In addition to deadening the nerve to that arm, they used a general anesthetic that was not Propofol. It never occurred to me that this could cause memory problems, until I noticed short-term memory problems within a few days. It was noticeable enough that my significant other commented on it which caused us to discuss it and speculate that it had to be the anesthesia.

    The memory loss has lessened over time. It is probably not completely gone, but greatly reduced.

    In 2014 I underwent an endoscopy in which the anesthesiologist used Propofol. I did not experience short-term memory losses afterwards.

    I agree Loretta. I think doctors should screen patients on this subject well before the procedure. In neither instance was I given information about options, pros and cons, and encouraged to make an informed decision. The wrist repair was elective. If I had been told the probability of short-term memory issues, I might well have skipped it – or opted for a different sedative?

    I had surgery 6 yrs ago, and since then I have had memory problems especially with spelling common words. There are other short term problems that I deal with daily. I was 68 at the time of the surgery.

    I suspect that activated charcoal, taken after surgery and anesthesia, might remove anesthetic chemicals from the blood and prevent any mental decline. Of course, charcoal should not be taken within 2 hours of any medications or supplements, or it might absorb them too.

    Activated charcoal is a greatly underused resource that everyone should educate themselves about.

    Very interesting! I also use Rescue Remedy for recovery from surgery (and also use it with my dogs). It works wonders.

    My Significant Other had Cancer Surgery in March of 2013. She has had some short term memory loss. She still has some trouble with memory almost Two years later. We aren’t sure what anesthesia was used during the breast removal. She is Seventy-Six.

    Since October 2013, I’ve had two endoscopies for ulcers, at different facilities. Both anesthetists used propofol. I experienced severe night terrors and horrible, vivid dreams for a month after each procedure. I had some short term memory loss but only for a day or two. The nightmares, though, were so bad that I woke nightly screaming and shaking. They gradually diminished and then disappeared.

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