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Mayo Clin Proc. 2011 Sep;86(9):885-93. doi: 10.4065/mcp.2011.0332.

Perioperative cognitive decline in the aging population.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, San Francisco, CA 94143-0648, USA.


Elderly patients who have an acute illness or who undergo surgery often experience cognitive decline. The pathophysiologic mechanisms that cause neurodegeneration resulting in cognitive decline, including protein deposition and neuroinflammation, also play a role in animal models of surgery-induced cognitive decline. With the aging of the population, surgical candidates of advanced age with underlying neurodegeneration are encountered more often, raising concerns that, in patients with this combination, cognitive function will precipitously decline postoperatively. This special article is based on a symposium that the University of California, San Francisco, convened to explore the contributions of surgery and anesthesia to the development of cognitive decline in the aged patient. A road map to further elucidate the mechanisms, diagnosis, risk factors, mitigation, and treatment of postoperative cognitive decline in the elderly is provided.

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