Authors

  • Mitch Keamy Photo Mitch Keamy is an anesthesiologist in Las Vegas Nevada Andy Kofke Photo Andy Kofke is a Professor of Neuro-anesthesiology and Critical Care at the University of Pennslvania Mike O'Connor Mike O'Connor is Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the University of Chicago Rob Dean Photo Rob Dean is a cardiac anesthesiologist in Grand Rapids Michigan, with extensive experience in O.R. administration.

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Rather_Not_Say

In my late 50s, I've had 'twilight' anesthesia twice -- to reset a broken radius, and for a gastric scope exam. I was "goofy" friends' word) and had multiple falls just walking on flat sidewalks, and memory trouble, for a couple years after each one. Got lost walking across the town I've lived in 30 years; forgot where my commuter bus stopped. Three years later I've still lost the thread of all my projects. My dad had the same sort of problems. And we both are extraordinarily slow to wake up after anesthesia, even after telling the doctor about this problem in advance each time.

Outliers, I expect.

Is there anything appropriate to say to a regular doctor about this, before considering optional anesthesia?

I'm overdue for a colonoscopy -- but comparing perhaps a 3 percent chance of colon cancer (no primary relatives) versus what seems like certainty of another couple of years of falling down on the street repeatedly and forgetting things is -- a tradeoff.

It's a tradeoff I can't balance. I have no idea how even to explain to a treating MD who works on the basis of statistical averages.

Of course I never see the same MD twice and they don't have time to read my file, that's medicine these days.

Thoughts or pointers to more appropriate place to ask welcome.

Jackie

I have a suggestion about the anesthetics used for colonoscopy. DON'T LET THEM USE VERSED/MIDAZOLAM if you value your mind. VERSED is the drug from hell for a lot of patients who previously were fine. I had problems with GA also, but the effects from VERSED have lasted 2 years and counting!!! I get along fine with a small amount of Fentanyl only without all the rest of the brain disabling drugs. Good luck convincing your provider not to knock you in the head with VERSED however! They love this stuff.

Willie Owen

I have a record for memory losss by anesthesia. I feel it is not all anesthesia. I suffered an electrocuted brain 20 years before and then an electric shock a few weeks before surgery. I woke up a few weeks ago in a completely different world from the one I went to sleep in the night before. It took a couple of days before I remembered the last thing I knew was counting backwards before rotator cuff surgery. It took me another day to realize that ten years had passed since the surgery. Any record of such happening to any one else? I feel like the alterations to my brain cells by the electricity interfered with normal operation of the anesthesia and an alter ego emerged and rn my life for all this time. Any comments?

Willie Owen

I have a record for memory losss by anesthesia. I feel it is not all anesthesia. I suffered an electrocuted brain 20 years before and then an electric shock a few weeks before surgery. I woke up a few weeks ago in a completely different world from the one I went to sleep in the night before. It took a couple of days before I remembered the last thing I knew was counting backwards before rotator cuff surgery. It took me another day to realize that ten years had passed since the surgery. Any record of such happening to any one else? I feel like the alterations to my brain cells by the electricity interfered with normal operation of the anesthesia and an alter ego emerged and rn my life for all this time. Any comments?

johny republic

What about fluoride levels from the florine based gases? Fluoride is a potent neurotoxic poison. What role does that play in memory loss and cognitive function?

kofke

my knowledge about flourine and volatile anesthetics:

methoxyflurane: bad, heavily metabolized and caused renal failure from F. not around anymore

enflurane: signif metabolism and with prolonged use an occasional F induced kidney failure. not around anymore

halothane: less metabolism, Br released too, pretty much gone now.

Isoflurane: hardly any metabolism but some. i once measured urine F when i gave it to a patient for two days, and could not detect a toxic amount

desflurant and sevo I think produce negligible flouride

so its a good question but i am pretty sure that with the modern anesthetics this is not an issue anymore

ak

wisdom

Thanks for the information on anesthetics and a potential link to brain damage.

Distressed Daughter

Three years ago my then 76 yr old mother underwent bypass surgery to replace the aortic valve. Due to complications with the new valve, she was in surgery for 8.5 hours. In addition, the night before she underwent catheterization and was under anesthesia for an hour.

She woke up 24 hours later a different person. She did not recognize her family and thought she was 10 years old in Japan. Although she has spoken English most of her life she no longer understood it well.

Three years and many tests later, we are told she suffered brain damage from prolonged anesthesia and now has alzheimer's as a result. She is like two people - one who is my sweet mother and one who screws up her life by doing irrational things. She always says "someone else did this or that, not me". To her, her history since the operation is all made up in her head since she can only remember from the day before the surgery three years ago and nothing since. Its very very sad for her and for all of us who love her.

Does anyone know of any treatments for this type of brain damage?

Laurie

I had liposuction and facelift in September of 2007 at Thailand. I was put under anesthesia two times - once during the surgeries and again to remove surtures at my request. They also offered a "No Pain Surgery" for an additional $50, which I decided in favor of. My comprehension has since been difficult and I am now more forgetful. I have been checked by a neurologists who claims there's nothing wrong with me. I know he is wrong. I feel it and live it everyday. I have been surfing the net to find out if anesthesias can indeed cause brain damage. Your site so far has provided the best info for me. If I can help your studies in any way, feel free to contact me. I tried to find out tonight exactly what kinds of anesthesias were used on me, but they refused to give me this info without first getting a copy of my passport. It could've been isoflurane and/or sevoflurane. The hospital said that those were the two gas anesthesias most commonly used. I will find out what exactly I was given. Hope to hear from you. Aloha!

Hank Roberts

http://upennanesthesiology.typepad.com/upenn_anesthesiology/2009/06/consensus-statement-first-international-workshop-on-anesthetics-and-alzheimers-disease.html

June 29, 2009:

".... Given the available evidence, the potential for anesthetics to have long term cognitive effects needs serious attention and further study. ..... Consensus statement: First international workshop on anesthetics and Alzheimer’s disease. Anesth Analg 2009;108:1627-30

Dipankar Dhar

Almost since a year now, increasingly I am asked, especially, by parents of toddlers,during pre-anesthesia visit, about the potential of anesthetics causing any brain damage, especially in children.

With insufficient information available it is extremely difficult to allay such apprehension.

Emergence agitation with sevoflurane, especially in children is not uncommon... is it some temporary manifestation of limbic system dysfunction?


andrew kofke

dont know what to make of the sevo delirium. It is proconvulsant so one wonders about that as an issue but probably not. hua fung wei at our place finds that isoflurane promotes apoptosis and sevo and des do not so from that perspective it should be a good drug.

ak

Ann

My dearest friend of 42 years underwent plastic surgery in office and was under for at least one hour. She was not the same when she came out. A month later she is cognitively impaired and often cannot discern between reality and dreams. She has also suddenly become obsessive/compulsive about a number of things...combing hair, cleaning hands and a number of other not normal behaviors. We are all worried that we won't get her back.

Barry L. Friedberg, MD

Lets see now... too much alcohol, not good for the brain (see AA); repeated head trauma, not good for the brain (see NFL).

Why would any sane person believe that too much anesthesia, a chemical assault on the brain, would be good for the brain and without the potential for dementia?

Without a brain monitor to give each person their requisite anesthetic dose, the anesthesia provider is forced to give too much for fear of giving too little. Sounds like a recipe for routine over medication to me.

So why hasn't direct brain monitoring, BIS or others, been widely promoted?

First, no one, physicians in general (see Semmelweis) & especially anesthesiologists, like to change.

Second, with concomitant EMG trending, BIS, in particular, has limited ability for proactive management.

Third, the BIS company is restricted by FDA approval from informing users of the increased utility of their device using EMG as the secondary trace.

Fourth, widespread brain monitoring could reduce anesthetic sales by as much as 30%, severely impacting Big Pharma's ability to provide millions of support dollars to the national anesthesia organizations.

For all these reasons, the non-profit Goldilocks Anesthesia Foundation was created.

Debbie Zufall

I am in my early fifties. In 2008 and 2009 I had partial corneal transplant(DSEK)surgeries.
The first time (left eye)post op I immediately began to experienced severe short term memory loss which lasted for six months. After my second surgery (right eye) I immediately began to experience memory loss having to do with forgetting common words, particularly proper nouns. This has made it difficult for me to hold a conversation or do any public speaking by memory. It also has made it much more time consuming to write as I have to pause at least once in every sentence to remember the word I want. After the first six months it began to improve, and now that I am near the one year mark it is significantly better.

Jill

2 Years ago this January, my sister went in for a very long surgery to recieve a living donor liver transplant (the second in my immediate family due to Wilson's Disease). After the initial surgery, she was walking talking and functioning normally. They had to go back in 24 hrs later to do an exploratory surgery to place a bile duct. This was supposed to be rather minor. When she came out of surgery she would not wake up and could not breath on her own for so long that they had to place a trach. After nearly a month being on the trach she did get it removed. Now after 9 surgeries, she qwnt from being a normal 24 year old to requiring 24/7 medical attention. She is on a feeding tube. She has severe muscle spacticity and muscle loss. She never regained full ability to swallow. She can only take meds by her tube and have jello. She barely speaks as well. Can someone tell me what may have caused this to happen to her?

Researdher

There are documented examples going back over a hundred years of people using hypnosis to turn patients' pain completely off during surgery. Dr. James Esdaile did it with patients in India in the 1800's, Dr. Henry Munro did it in Nebraska in the early 1900's, and the Mayo brothers did it at St. Mary's hospital before they started their clinic. All combined, we're talking about thousands of procedures using hypnosis in conjunction with anesthesia so that the amount of anesthesia that was needed was greatly reduced, or sometimes just hypnosis on its own, and no loss of life from the use of anesthesia.

tablet pc

The hospital said that those were the two gas anesthesias most commonly used. I will find out what exactly I was given. Hope to hear from you. AlohaIt could've been isoflurane and/or sevoflurane.!

J

I have had three 7-8 hour surgeries. And 25 procedures. Being put under for all. I also suffer from PSSD due to the amount of trauma caused my a local doctor. Hospitalized over 7 months in 3 years. Everyday is a challenge. I've lost my ability to think clearly. My cognitive memory is damaged and was told may never come back. I am on the Exelon patch for this. Just hoping I get better from this. My husband has been my angel.

Elize Najm

I have had 36+ surgeries for which I underwent General Anesthesia, in addition to over 100 with local. I was born with a cleft lip and palate and bilateral hydronephrosis. I am 21 now and am starting to wonder if this has had any lasting effects. It seems like a silly question for which the answer is obvious, but I am having a hard time locating anyone who has possible answers or can even direct me in the right direction. Anyhow, your article is the most informative I have come across but I am still searching for more.

Barbara lanz

As a practicing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist for over 35 years, I often knew that what I was giving my patients was my best educated guess. Early on in anesthesia school, I was taught, we don't really know how anesthetics make the brain go to sleep.

Over the years I was continually amazed at how lightly the public and the surgeons took what I did every day. It was safe, yes, within what parameters? Who knew. My step-daughter had a cyst taken off her writs under local anesthesia. A healthy mother of four, one being a special needs spina-bifida baby, she cardiac arrested at the end of the procedure. She was resuscitated, placed in a medically induced coma for seizing.

She is completely unable to care for herself or her children. She lost custody of them to her x-husband, and her life is a mess. She is trying the hyperbaric chamber currently.

My other suggestion for her and others is to look into neurobiofeedback. There is much research being done and some particular protocols for brain damage and personality changes after anesthesia.

So, is anyone collecting research data on all those who have commented? Compiling case reports and comparing anesthesia records would be a fascinating project.

Daniel R. Hebert

My wife had ear surgery 6 yrs. ago and went into depression for 8 months due to the anesthesia. Her Dr. said it was due to her father dying several yrs. before. Nearly 20 months ago she had gall bladder surgery and went into depression for 7 months and can only sit at the computer with a "hundred yard stare" in her eyes. I wonder if anyone is in there. She now is disgusted and aggravated. At least that is some emotion. She has previously had a full blown hysterectomy and lung surgery on different occasions and had to recover from the surgery NOT THE ANESTHESIA. On the last Dr. visit, he said she had something like this happen a few yrs. back. I asked him what was the common denominator? He said it was conjecture. I told him there was better dope on the streets than what was being peddled by the FDA.

J. Medrano

I have been struggling with serious short term memory loss for just over a month. It has been horribly frustrating and scary. I take very good care of my self and am otherwise very healthy. I will be 50 this year. The only change/assault that has occurred on my body recently has been two visits to the dentist to get fillings. When I went back for the second filling (6-1-11) I told the dentist my mouth was numb for 6 hours after the first filling (5-11-11). She said I must be sensitive to the anesthetic. I think she used a little less for the second because my mouth was only numb for a little over 5 hours. 20 days later my brain on the other hand still feels numb.
I put things down/away in strange places. I'll look right at something and can't find it. I looked at a gate that I was sure I had closed and saw it open, when I went back to close it, it was closed. Scary, scary, stuff.
I forget things now and then but never like I have this past month.

Geoffrey Lelia

That is why it is so important to choose the right doctor and the hospital with the proper equipment for any kind of operation, including plastic surgery. Some doctors tend to do plastic surgeries in clinics. While this is legal per se, this is not encouraged and most medical experts consider this as a dangerous enterprise. It pays to do more research before having any plastic surgery.

judy

I am curious about ether anesthesia whether it causes brain damage? I was told by my mother that I was given too much ether and that was caused my language delayed. I talked in short sentences. I had cleft lip and palate surgeries when I was very young.

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