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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1989 Nov;98(5 Pt 1):774-82.

Neurobehavioral outcomes in cardiac operations. A prospective controlled study.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle 98195.


To assess the severity and duration of new organic brain dysfunction after cardiac operations, we used an extensive battery of neuropsychologic tests to evaluate 65 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting and 25 patients undergoing intracardiac operations with cardiopulmonary bypass. Patients were tested the day before the operation, before discharge from the hospital, and approximately 7 months later. Compared to 47 nonsurgical control subjects tested at comparable time intervals, surgical subjects showed generalized impairment of neuropsychologic abilities near the time of discharge from the hospital. At follow-up testing, there was no evidence of residual impairment among the surgically treated patients as a whole. In fact, they showed greater improvement compared to initial test scores than did control subjects. However, performance of 10 patients (11%) declined on half of the neuropsychologic variables between preoperative and follow-up testing. Neurobehavioral outcome was not related to the type of operation (coronary bypass versus intracardiac), to factors of cardiopulmonary bypass (duration, aortic occlusion time, hypotension, arterial carbon dioxide tension, minimum hematocrit value, minimum temperature). The only predictor of negative outcome was advanced age. We conclude that, although neurobehavioral impairment is common during hospitalization after cardiac operations, the prognosis for eventual full recovery is favorable, although less so among the elderly.

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