Background: Total knee arthroplasty improves quality of life but is associated with postoperative cognitive dysfunction in older adults. This prospective longitudinal pilot study with a parallel control group tested the hypotheses that (1) nondemented adults would exhibit primary memory and executive difficulties after total knee arthroplasty, and (2) reduced preoperative hippocampus/entorhinal volume would predict postoperative memory change, whereas preoperative leukoaraiosis and lacunae volumes would predict postoperative executive dysfunction.
Methods: Surgery (n = 40) and age-education-matched controls with osteoarthritis (n = 15) completed pre- and postoperative (3 weeks, 3 months, and 1 yr) memory and cognitive testing. Hypothesized brain regions of interest were measured in patients completing preoperative magnetic resonance scans (surgery, n = 31; control, n = 12). Analyses used reliable change methods to identify the frequency of cognitive change at each time point.
Results: The incidence of postoperative memory difficulties was shown with delay test indices (i.e., story memory test: 3 weeks = 17%, 3 months = 25%, 1 yr = 9%). Postoperative executive difficulty with measures of inhibitory function (i.e., Stroop Color Word: 3 weeks = 21%, 3 months = 22%, 1 yr = 9%). Hierarchical regression analysis assessing the predictive interaction of group (surgery, control) and preoperative neuroanatomical structures on decline showed that greater preoperative volumes of leukoaraiosis/lacunae were significantly contributed to postoperative executive (inhibitory) declines.
Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that executive and memory declines occur in nondemented adults undergoing orthopedic surgery. Severity of preoperative cerebrovascular disease may be relevant for understanding executive decline, in particular.