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Alzheimer's Disease

Effects of Anesthesia on Alzheimer`s Patient

01/18/2008

Question:

78 year old male has surgery for removal of bladder and prostate due to cancer. Has start of Alzheimer`s, but after 8 hr. surgery is now showing signs of severe Alzheimer`s. Can this happen? After 2 plus mos. since surgery, still no major changes. Will he return to pre-op stages, or has surgery trauma put him over the edge? Also have heard of new treatment called "Enbrel" I believe. I think it`s a spinal injection. Please comment. Thank you.

Answer:

Cholinesterase inhibitors used for Alzheimer's disease like Aricept, Exelon, or Razadyne can exaggerate the paralysis effect of anesthesia agents. However these effects should only be transient. If the cognitive loss or memory loss occurred suddenly after a surgery, than this would not be due to Alzheimer's disease. Typically it may be related to a stroke or perhaps low perfusion or low blood flow to his brain during the operation. Other causes are also possible, but sudden changes are likely not related to Alzheimer's disease.

There is insufficient scientific data to support the use of Enbrel for treating Alzheimer's disease. This was a study of one patient!

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Response by:

Douglas W Scharre, MD Douglas W Scharre, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University