Doctors weren't sure if the "post-operative cognitive decline" seniors experience was due to anesthesia or the surgery. In a mouse study using the familial type of Alzheimer's they found the greatest impact was from the surgery itself, via brain inflammation.
A syndrome called "post-operative cognitive decline" has been coined to refer to the commonly reported loss of cognitive abilities, usually in older adults, in the days to weeks after surgery. In fact, some patients time the onset of their Alzheimer's disease symptoms from a surgical procedure.
The results, published online this month in the Annals of Surgery,shows that surgery itself, rather than anesthesia, has the more profound impact on a dementia-vulnerable brain.
"In the mice, there was a clear and persistent decrement in learning and memory caused by surgery as compared with inhalational anesthesia -- but only in the context of a brain made vulnerable by human Alzheimer-associated transgenes," notes Eckenhoff.
...the window of vulnerability to surgery of the Alzheimer's brain extends into this pre-symptomatic period...
The bar graph shows how each symptoms increased. On the left the white bar is control. The central grey bar is anesthesia alone. The right side black bar is anesthesia plus surgery.
Hopefully a strategy to prevent brain inflammation may b developed. If I needed surgery I'd ask my doctor if there's an anti-inflammatory that crosses the blood brain barrier which they could give to me.