Predicting and preventing adverse neurologic outcomes with cardiac surgery.
Adverse neurologic outcomes after cardiac surgery can have devastating consequences, among them increased mortality risk and, among survivors, loss of independence and a diminished quality of life. They also represent a burden on the health-care system, requiring prolonged hospitalizations and additional aftercare and, therefore, greater costs. Adverse outcomes are classified by their severity. Frank stroke is the most serious. This complication is associated with patient age; however, the presence of significant ascending aortic disease represents the greatest hazard. Multivariable analysis also indicates that prior neurologic events, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, preoperative status, and diffuse vascular disease are predictive. The second type of adverse cerebral outcome includes neurocognitive abnormalities such as memory loss and diminished emotional health. The strongest predictors of these abnormalities are hypertension and a history of alcohol use, as well as age. These predictive factors have been incorporated into the Multicenter Study of Perioperative Ischemia stroke-risk index, which clinicians can use to better assess the risk of adverse neurologic events. Clinical research examining the relationship between the predictive variables for neurologic adverse events and cerebral blood flow has suggested some surgical strategies for minimizing risk, such as limiting manipulation of the ascending aorta. The benefits of strategies such as using low or high mean arterial pressures and manipulating pump flow remain unclear. Off-pump coronary bypass surgery has been proposed as a means of reducing neurologic risk, but its effectiveness is unproved in this area. One pharmacologic strategy, the administration of aprotinin, has been shown to reduce the incidence of stroke in high-risk patients.
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