Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction in Patients with Preoperative Cognitive Impairment: Which Domains Are Most Vulnerable?

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Abstract

Background:

The authors explored the database of the first International Study of Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction study to specify the domains of cognitive function that were most vulnerable and to determine the pattern of deterioration in patients with preoperative cognitive impairment.

Methods:

One thousand two hundred eighteen patients were included in the first International Study of Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction, where neuropsychological testing was performed at entry to the study, at 1 week, and at 3 months after surgery. The authors' analyses determined the extent to which seven neuropsychological measures changed after surgery with focus on the relation with preoperative cognitive impairment, defined as a preoperative score 1.5 SD below healthy controls in the memory test.

Results:

Preoperative cognitive impairment was found in 74 patients at baseline. At 1 week, cognitive deterioration was seen in all tests, but in particular in the Letter Digit Coding and the time of the Stroop interference test, with 14% and 16% of the total sample (n = 1,016) exceeding 2 SD, respectively. At 3 months, deterioration was more uniform. Significantly fewer in the preoperative cognitive impairment group had deterioration in the memory test, both at 1 week and at 3 months, with no patient displaying a deterioration exceeding 2 SD.

Conclusions:

Postoperative cognitive deterioration was seen in all tests, although most commonly in attention and cognitive speed at 1 week. Deterioration in memory was difficult to detect after surgery in patients with preoperative cognitive impairment.

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