Neurocognitive dysfunction following cardiac surgery.
Postoperative neurocognitive decline (POCD) is the most frequently reported form of brain injury in the cardiac surgery setting. Even though most patients recover over a period of several months, recovery is variable and often transient, and early decline may be a marker of neurocognitive dysfunction after several years. Recent studies, however, suggest that late neurocognitive decline after coronary artery bypass graft surgery may not be specific to the use of cardiopulmonary bypass. Large prospective, longitudinal trials with appropriate controls remain necessary to identify how patient characteristics, disease progression, and surgical and anesthetic technique contribute to aging-related neurocognitive decline. This article reviews the current literature on the etiology of POCD following cardiac surgery, discusses strategies to reduce patient risk, and provides some insight into some controversies that merit continued investigation.
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