Researchers make surgical breakthrough

4 November 2014

A team of researchers has made a significant surgical breakthrough, which could help improve the post-operative experience of many patients.

The study at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine has shown why there can be problems with anesthetics and long-term memory loss. Until now, teams have been struggling to understand why some patients suffer cognitive impairment as a result of having anesthesia and surgery.

Anesthetics activate memory-loss receptors in the brain, ensuring that patients don't remember anything traumatic during surgery. Professor Beverley Orser, professor in the Departments of Anesthesia and Physiology, and anesthesiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, found that this activity of memory loss receptors can remain for longer periods in some patients.

She recommends that doctors and family members of patients keep a close eye on patients after surgery for any signs of memory loss. 

The risk of someone developing cognitive impairment after surgery depends on their age, general health, type of surgery and the anesthetic, with chances increasing for more intricate procedures. 

The study was published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Posted by Philip Briggs​


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