A recent study, the findings of which appeared online in the ‘BMJ’ on August 7, 20199, has linked major surgeries to long term damage in cognitive functions of the brain. The damage reported is termed minor and varies depending upon the type of surgery, reason for undergoing it, kind of process involved and the post-op factors.
The study analyzed information on about 7,500 plus civil servants in the UK aged between 35 to 55 years when registered for the study. They were tested five times for their thinking skills from the period 1997 to 2016. The tests involved measuring their levels of reasoning, memory and verbal fluency. The factor of age-related aging of the brain was taken into consideration by the researchers.
In the period of follow-up, an occurrence of 4,500 operations, 4300 plus hospitalizations and 151 stroke cases were reported. The study revealed a link between a major surgery and decline in brain’s cognitive functioning. This risk was noticed more in patients who were just hospitalized and didn’t require a surgical procedure. Researchers attributed this decline to factors such as mini-strokes, strokes, medications and inflammation during the surgery period.
The researchers noticed an extra 1.4 years of aging of the brain for medical admission patients while stroke added to about another 13 years of aging of the brain. 13% of the participants who were just plainly hospitalized had substantial brain aging while percentage figures for those undergoing surgery was 5.5%. The percentage of participants who did not face hospitalization for any reasons but had major cognitive damage was restricted to 2.5%. Emergency surgical procedures were linked to higher cognitive damage while it was lesser in non-emergency procedures.
However, researchers felt that more studies were needed for an enhanced understanding in this context in order to make the surgery process safe