Memory Loss after General Anaesthetic

Memory Loss after General Anaesthetic is actually quite common.

The medical term for this is; Post-operative cognitive dysfunction (POCD)

Here are some links for more information:


You’re more likely to develop confusion after your general anaesthetic if you:

  • are over 60
  • are generally unwell
  • have poor memory or dementia
  • have difficulty walking
  • drink a lot of alcohol

Daily Mail UK

A study shows that general anaesthesia may increase the risk of dementia, The longer the surgery and the older you are, the more you’re at risk

Memory Loss, Alzheimer’s Disease and General Anesthesia: A Preoperative Concern

A study of 5 cases from 2 academic institutions to analyze some common features where the patient’s or the patient family member has made a request to address their concern on memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and general anesthesia.

2012: POCD is defined as either a transient and/or durable loss in cognition after surgery and is currently being investigated in both animals and humans.
Conflicting results exist in various animal results but literature reviews found little clinical evidence demonstrating the association between surgery or anesthesia to long term cognitive dysfunction and incident dementia.

Dr Weil

Older patients are at increased risk of POCD. Neuropsychological tests to given to different age groups; young (18-39), middle-aged (40-59) and elderly (60 or older) show that the rate of POCD among the elderly patients (60+) three months after surgery was 12.7 percent, compared to 5.7 percent among mid-life and young patients

Dr Julia Lewis

Do you or someone you know have trouble thinking clearly or memory loss after a surgery?
There is an actual diagnosis for it?
It is POCD – Post Operative Cognitive Decline, and there is no drug to help it, but most people are able to naturally process out the chemicals in the anesthesia.

Alzheimer’s Reading Room

Exposure to general anaesthesia increases the risk of dementia in the elderly by 35% according to a study presented at Euroanaesthesia, the annual congress of the European Society of Anaesthesiology (ESA). Between 1999 and 2001, the 3C study included 9,294 community-dwelling French people aged 65 years and over.

International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS)

2012.  A drug targeting one specific receptor may provide the first effective approach to treatment for the common problem of memory loss after surgery and anesthesia, according to an experimental study in the April issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS).
Treatment with L-655,708 completely eliminated the anesthesia-related memory deficits. This was so even though treatment wasn’t given until 24 hours after isoflurane exposure—by which time there was little or not concentration of anesthetic remaining in the brain. Even without treatment, the impairment in short-term memory resolved by 72 hours after anesthesia.


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