Journal CME - 2016 February
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Journal CME - 2016 February

Journal CME - 2016 February


Background: Postoperative cognitive dysfunction is common, but it remains unclear whether there are long-term adverse cognitive effects of surgery combined with anesthesia. The authors examined the association between exposure to surgery and level of cognitive functioning in a sample of 8,503 middle-aged and elderly twins.
Methods: Results from five cognitive tests were compared in twins exposed to surgery, classified as major, minor, hip and knee replacement, or other, with those of a reference group without surgery using linear regression adjusted for sex and age. Genetic and shared environmental confounding was addressed in intrapair analyses of 87 monozygotic and 124 dizygotic same-sexed twin pairs in whom one had a history of major surgery and the other did not.
Results: Statistically significantly lower composite cognitive score was found in twins with at least one major surgery compared with the reference group (mean difference, -0.27; 95% CI, -0.48 to -0.06), corresponding to one tenth of an SD, that is, a negligible effect size. In the intrapair analysis, the surgery-exposed co-twin had the lower cognitive score in 49% (95% CI, 42 to 56%) of the pairs. None of the other groups differed from the reference group except the knee and hip replacement group that tended to have higher cognitive scores (mean difference, 0.35; 95% CI, -0.18 to 0.87).
Conclusions: A history of major surgery was associated with a negligibly lower level of cognitive functioning. The supplementary analyses suggest that preoperative cognitive functioning and underlying diseases were more important for cognitive functioning in mid- and late life than surgery and anesthesia.

CME Credit: 1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™

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Learning Objectives:
After successfully completing this activity, the learner will be able to do the following:

  1. Evaluate a preoperative patient’s risk of postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) based on age, comorbidities, and planned surgical procedure (1, 2, 3, 5)
  2. Discuss with the patient the...
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