[Postoperative cognitive disorders in the elderly]

Presse Med. 2001 Apr 7;30(13):648-52.
[Article in French]


TWO DISTINCT CATEGORIES: Postoperative cognitive disorders include delirium and long-term cognitive dysfunction. DELERIUM: Delirium is an acute state occurring early during the postoperative period. It may be considered as an acute cerebral insufficiency which may be consecutive both to the negative effects of aging and chronic illness on cognitive function, and to the cerebral impact of operative stress. In addition, precipitating postoperative medical factors may facilitate cerebral failure. Only a few studies have been devoted to prevention programs aimed at reducing the risk of postoperative delirium. Nevertheless, we can hypothesize that a preoperative gerontology assessment would be effective in determining risk factors of delirium in old patients and thus enable proposing individual postoperative management. LONG-TERM COGNITIVE DYSFUNCTION: The definition of this clinical picture is less precise than delirium. Long-term cognitive dysfunction corresponds to a loss of cognitive performance in the weeks and months after anesthesia. The IPOCD1 study conducted in a large cohort of elderly patients has shown that postoperative cognitive dysfunction was present in 25.8% of patients 1 week after surgery and in 9.9% 3 months after surgery. One to two years after surgery, cognitive dysfunction was observed in 10.4% of patients compared with 10.6% in a control population of non-operated patients. We would suggest that in many cases, postoperative cognitive dysfunction may result from preoperative dementia unmasked by surgery.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Delirium / etiology*
  • Dementia / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative*