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Anesthesia

Anesthesia and slight memory loss

12/06/2006

Question:

Will I experience slight memory loss after going through two general anesthesia? Will it affect my academic performance?

Answer:

If you are planning to have a surgical procedure on the same day as your exams it is certainly possible that your performance will not be optimal!

Whether there is any impact will depend on the time available for recovery, the type of surgery (minor or major), your age and general condition, and possibly by the type and amount of anesthetic you receive.

As far as memory loss is concerned, there is some evidence emerging that a significant number of elderly people experience difficulty with cognition for as long as 6 months after anesthesia and surgery. How and why this occurs exactly is not known. We also do not know exactly which factors we can alter to reduce the impact of surgery and anesthesia on the brain.

Although the drugs available for use in general anesthesia today are quickly metabolized and excreted, and patients can awaken very rapidly, we are still not able with complete confidence to say you would be 100% back to normal a day or two after surgery.

Some studies have shown that the degree of impairment after outpatient surgery and anesthesia is not that different from persons who have had a few drinks of alcohol. But would you take your exam while drunk?

For more information:

Go to the Anesthesia health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Gareth S Kantor, MD Gareth S Kantor, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University