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Anesthesia

Effects of Anesthesia-Multiple Surgeries

10/01/2007

Question:

I am curious as to the long term effects of multiple surgeries. I have had six surgeries on my shoulder since March 2007 relating to a elective operation and a resulting staph infection. I also had a picc line for IV antibiotics. Since this time, I have not felt like myself. My head seems foggy at times, I lose focus more easily, I have headaches, my memory is not what it used to be, and I just am not as mentally tough as I was before, along with stomach issues and getting sick more easily. Could this be related to having undergone general anesthesia so much in such a short time?

Answer:

Your question has been asked several times before (see links below). In summary, there is a suspicion, but little evidence, that in some elderly individuals general anesthesia, single or multiple episodes, can result in some degree of long term cognitive (brain) dysfunction. Many authorities are not convinced that this problem results from general anesthesia, believing instead that these features result from the trauma of surgery, the accompanying medical treatment, and the effects of illnesses underlying the need to have surgery. Sadly, until we can persuade people to volunteer to have surgery without anesthesia, providing a "control group" to test the hypothesis that anesthesia is responsible for these complaints, we may never know the answer to your question.

Related Resources:

Long Term Side Effects of General Anesthesia
Side Effects After Anesthesia
General Anesthesia and Dementia

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