How will anesthetic effect my mother with memory loss and are their any alternatives?

7 answers | Last updated: Sep 21, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother is looking at having a knee replacement. She has early memory loss. What are the possible effects of anesthetic and are there alternative treatments we should check out before operating. Thank you for your advice.


Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

When having a major operation, such as a knee replacement, the best source of information about anethesia's effects on a patient would be the anesthesiologist. Your mother would have a consultation with one prior to any major surgery, as they assess the risks of anethesia for her, looking closely at her medical history and current medical conditions.

That being said, in my experience, many patients with mild memory loss do well with surgery. The anethesia can sometimes cause a delirium, which is a transient confusional state, but this usually reverses a few days after surgery. Good luck!


Community Answers

Oldblackdog answered...

The NP's response was on target overall, but still - during those few days, a family member should be on hand at all times to calm and monitor your mother, if the surgery is necessary. My own father - with no alzeimers, and minimal memory loss, had a terrible reaction and complete disorientation following an emergency surgery ( bowel obstruction); a friend's father in law was seriously impacted for a couple of weeks. AND make absolutely sure that the medical staff - from Drs to nurses to aides - are aware of your mother's NORMAL functioning - because they often assume too much - sometimes expecting higher and sometimes lower - functioning than the individual usually shows. Good luck!


Booda answered...

some people are alergic to anetheia and my mom got worse everytime she went under the temp delirum lasted longer and longer, she had hips replacement and a toe amputated, so good luck either way this horrable desease takes its course plan on getting long tearm care insurance if you don't have it get it medicare quits helping you after a second visit to the nursing home.


Mom-o answered...

My husband has dementia and he had a total knee replacement May 2010. We talked to the doctor and he said it shouldn't affect him at all. And it didn't!!But I think the NP is exactly right. You should talk to the anesthesioligost.And has already been stated some have allergic to meds!So I guess it's a risk but my husband couldn't do a lot of things he wanted to do. He did well!!


Jocelyn d answered...

I am not a nurse or a doctor but my daughter and I are adament that after a knee replacement carried out under anesthetic was when my husband's Alzheimer's was first really noticeable. I would seriously advise having the operation done under an epidural.


Pamsc answered...

Most anesthesiologists are not up to date on the latest research on Alzheimer's and anesthesia. IV anesthesia and spinal (which might be possible for a knee replacement) are the best alternatives. If inhaled anesthesia is necessary, some are better than others. Least safe: isoflurane and halothane. Possibly not as bad: sevoflurane is better in some respects, desflurane better still. It is equally important that the anesthesiologist use as little as possible. One source of information is: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769511/?tool=pubmed


Squirrels nest answered...

It has been in the news just recently that there is a connection to anesthetics and the part of the brain Alzheimer,s affects. My husband had a mastectomy for breast cancer in March of this year and I first put the stress of the surgery and the cancer as the cause of his mental deterioration but that was months ago he,s now thankfully cancer free and stress free but definitely advanced farther into the disease since march than he did during the previous years since being diagnosed with early onset. I,m not highly educated and my wording isn,t perfect but there,s nothing wrong with my intelligence and I just know there,s a connection in his case, he,s 63 years old.