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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2016 Oct 18;17(11):705-717. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2016.128.

Lasting impact of general anaesthesia on the brain: mechanisms and relevance.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Intensive Care, University Hospitals of Geneva, 4 rue Gabrielle-Perret-Gentil, 1205 Geneva 4, Switzerland.
Department of Basic Neuroscience, University of Geneva Medical School, 1 rue Michel Servet, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.
Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 149 13th Street, Room 4310, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


General anaesthesia is usually considered to safely induce a reversible brain state allowing the performance of surgery under optimal conditions. An increasing number of clinical and experimental observations, however, suggest that anaesthetic drugs, especially when they are administered at the extremes of age, can trigger long-term morphological and functional alterations in the brain. Here, we review available mechanistic data linking general-anaesthesia exposure to impaired cognitive performance in both young and mature nervous systems. We also provide a critical appraisal of the translational value of animal models and highlight the important challenges that need to be addressed to strengthen the link between laboratory work and clinical investigations in the field of anaesthesia-neurotoxicity research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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