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Postoperative cognitive dysfunction

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Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction (POCD) refers to cognitive problems (with memory, learning and the ability to concentrate) following surgery.

Recent studies suggest that the incidence of POCD increases with age.

There has been very limited research into POCD, but existing reports suggest that it can last for long periods of time, with 2-3 months considered long-term.

POCD - postoperative cognitive dysfunction has been studied through various institutions since the inception of the IPOCDS-I study centred in Eindhoven, Netherlands and Copehagen, Denmark. This study through logical longitudinal extrapolation found hypoxia, hypoperfusion (low blood pressure) could not be statistically proven to be a cause of POCD. Age, duration of anaesthesia, introperative complications, and postoperative infections were found to be significant in causing POCD.

POCD to be differentiated from postoperative delirium has a longer duration and no lability or fluctuations in impaired cognitive functioning. Some patients who demonstrated POCD at 10-14 days were found to have improved scores at 3 months, while others continued to demonstrate POCD at periods longer than 1 year. This suggests that in certain at risk patients, POCD may be a permanent alteration of cognitive functioning.

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