Managing The Dangers Of Post-Operative Delirium In Elderly Patients


Operations on elderly people are always tricky because they often have weaker bodies that may be prone to suffering from certain types of diseases or health problems. One of these little-discussed concerns is post-operative delirium caused by anesthesia. This condition is one that can be devastating to the health of many senior patients. Fully understanding its danger and working hard to minimize it is crucial to a successful surgery and a healthy patient. Here is what you need to know about this condition and what you can do to stop it from occurring in your delicate and elderly patients.

What Is Post-Operative Delirium?

This problem occurs in elderly people who receive anesthesia during surgery. It is basically a lot of confusion and agitation that can last for several weeks after the surgery occurs. Patients who suffer from this problem will often be very upset and may be difficult to control. As the delirium wears off, they may end up getting a worse prognosis for whatever disease they were attempting to manage through surgery.

Just how common is this problem? It is estimated that at least 10 percent of all elderly patients who undergo surgery and receive anesthesia suffer from this problem. Other estimates claim that as many as 40 percent do, but that is on the rather high end of the suggested range. That said, it is important to understand this problem and anesthesia solutions for managing it properly.

Does It Cause Other Problems?

One problem that may be connected to post-operative delirium is post-operative cognitive dysfunction or POCD. This problem is difficult to spot because it can be very subtle. Those who suffer from it may struggle to control their body in ways they didn’t before, such as having a hard time opening doors, remembering things, or even walking down the street.

The connection between post-operative delirium and POCD is unclear. It is also unclear why anesthesia can cause either of these problems. It is believed that those with cardiac disease, lung disease, Alzheimer’s, and other cerebrovascular diseases may be at higher risk of developing these conditions.

What Anesthesia Solutions Are Available For Avoiding These Problems?

The best way to avoid this problem is to talk to the patient and get as much information from them as possible about their medical history and their experience with anesthesia. Those who have suffered from similar episodes or who have the mitigating factors mentioned above are likely at a high risk for developing these problems during surgery.

Avoiding certain types of medications can help here, such as meperidine, as they can contribute to some nerve concerns. Another great step is to use the minimal amount of anesthesia necessary. Anesthesia solutions like this can be tricky to implement, but they are necessary for protecting the health and well-being of your patients.

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