Does anesthesia affect those who suffer from alzheimers?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by smudgedog, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. smudgedog

    smudgedog Registered User

    Oct 31, 2012
    My wonderful mum and best friend wad diagnosed with alzheimers two years ago, although we believe it started before this. Without going into too many details, she has to have a polyp removed and the consultant loosely mentioned something about there sometimes being difficulties with anesthetic with those who suffer from alzheimers.

    Does anyone know about this? Does it make it worse or is it to do with the amount of anesthetic that is given?

    Many thanks
  2. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    The general consensus is that it can affect people with AD quite severely but some have found this to be short lived. I think there will be others along soon to give you their experience.
  3. smudgedog

    smudgedog Registered User

    Oct 31, 2012
    Thank you very much for your response. That is good to know and we will discuss this with the consultant. Many thanks
  4. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    #4 Beate, Mar 13, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
    Yes, anaesthesia can be quite bad for people living with dementia. I would certainly weigh the risks up carefully against the benefits of the surgery. How important is it that this polyp is removed? In other words, is it painful or life-threatening or a mere inconvenience? The consultant certainly should discuss this with you at length and not just mention it in passing.
  5. flossielime

    flossielime Registered User

    May 8, 2014
    My dad scored 21 on the MMSE memory test in january. He was hit by a car and needed an operation. He then scored 10 on the MMSE 3 weeks later in Feb. He has really really gone down hill post anesthetic. I have been told the decline is a combination of the trauma of the accident but probably mostly due to the anesthetic.
  6. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    General anaesthesia can be more damaging than local anaesthesia.

    My husband had a benign external growth removed under a local anaesthetic when he was well into dementia and it had no detrimental effect.
  7. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    Perhaps if it is only a polyp that has to be removed then it is likely that sedation and not a general anasthetic would be possible. OH had a colonoscopy last October during which time they removed a couple of polyps.

    He responded so much better than when he had a general anasthetic earlier in the year after which he was confused and disturbed for some time.

    If the surgeon is aware of the Alzheimer's, then hopefully they will use the softer option.
  8. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    I thought it was common knowledge (there's a useful link below). A consultant told my wife that she could have 2 operations to address a hearing issue but he would need to arrange for someone who could do a combination of localised and light general anaesthetic as he did not advise the standard full anaesthesia.
    Anecdotally and by experience I have always thought it was the case.
  9. smudgedog

    smudgedog Registered User

    Oct 31, 2012
    Thank you all very much for your responses and advice. I am definitely going to look into this further now. I will discuss it with my dad and sister and speak to the consultant. We don't want to put mum through any more than she is already going through.

    Many thanks again
  10. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    My husband was 4 years post diagnosis when he had to have a hernia operation. The hernia had caused problems with his bowel so it was important that it was done and he was operated on in the middle of the night.

    He was a little more confused after the operation but within a week he was back to where he was before the operation. He was very luck as he suffered no internal damage and no decline because of the anaesthetic .

    It is important to talk to the surgeon or consultant so you can make a well informed decision.
  11. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    Mom's vascular dementia increased noticeably after a hip operation 4 years ago and then again after pelvis operation last year.

    She now needs an surgery to by pass an artery blockage in her leg and after relaying my concerns to the consultant he has decided to perform the operation only if the condition gets to the life threatening/amputation stage.

    I do not think there is any definite research into a link apart from the poor administration of the anaesthetic.

    This is one link......

    but a quick google brings up many more.

    I wish your Mum well.:)
  12. Owly

    Owly Registered User

    Jun 6, 2011
    #12 Owly, Mar 18, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
    Nitrous oxide in general anaesthetics can deplete your B12 stores, critical to your brain functioning.

    This is especially so, if B12 is a bit depleted beforehand.

    You could ask doc to check B12 levels in the blood, before and after, and also give supplements to be on the safe side.

    See this thread where I posted on it before -

  13. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    At the start of Mums dementia, end of 2012 Mum had a colonoscopy and procedure to remove two small bowel polyps. A larger one required surgery to remove 30cm of bowel. The polyp was early stage cancerous with no spread to her lymph nodes so no further treatment necessary.
    In Mums case GA definitely made her dementia worse with AD diagnosis June 2013.
  14. Y Ddraig

    Y Ddraig Registered User

    May 31, 2012
    N Wales
    No lasting effects here...

    I too was worried about this, because my BIL needed several teeth extracting (plus filings etc) which all needed to be done under a GA. Having read a range of experiences here, I did query whether he could have conscious sedation, but this was not available via the hospital dentist who was treating him.

    Despite all my worries and my BIL being under GA for around an hour, he came through with no ill effects. I suspect we were pretty lucky and maybe if it had been longer, there would have been more evidence of deterioration afterwards. I would definitely advise speaking to the Dr though and see what they can do to set your mind at ease.
  15. MerryWive

    MerryWive Registered User

    Mar 20, 2015
    Our Experience was Horrific

    Sorry to share such an unpleasant story but I feel it is only right to warn others. I wish someone had warned us as it was a complete surprise.....

    My MIL had dementia and AlZ but was walking, talking, going to day care centre, taking aricept at that stage, had a fall and fractured her hip, was rushed in for a hip replacement op and woke up screaming. The physios refused to try and rehabilitate her as she was too aggressive (she had had moments of aggression before but nothing like this). The doctors said oh you've got a screamer, sometimes they never stop screaming. And predicted six months to a year left to live. Sent her to a care home and within two weeks she was back in hospital with a lung infection and pressure sores. At this point we brought her home and she has been here ever since (that was nearly five years ago, and guess what, no pressure sores!). None of the professionals guessed that her screams were due to unmet needs - it was my husband who said it must be because she needs the loo etc. Eventually (six months or so of non-stop screaming later) she was prescribed mirtazapine for anxiety and within an hour she was walking and talking again. I kid you not.

    But she was never never the same as she was before the operation. She has declined since then and can no longer walk or talk, but the screaming has reduced considerably.

    However, you do NOT want to be in our situation. The point is, if someone had told us before, at least we would have been forewarned and the consultant could have potentially done something about it. I have since learnt that if they take longer over the operation and use less/lighter anaesthetic the risk is reduced (I don't know how anaesthetic works but that is how it was explained to me).

    So definitely discuss it with the doctors, go for sedation if possible, or light general if not??

    I would suggest it may also help if she understands what is going on. What happened here is two big men in green uniforms (paramedics) came into her bedroom one morning and swooped her off. I can't recall exactly the chain of events and why it happened so suddenly but it did. She didn't know what was happening, she probably thought she had been abducted by aliens. It must have been very traumatic and disorientating for her.

    Again sorry to share such an unpleasant story but I know I would rather have known than not known, so someone could discuss it with us beforehand. Best of Luck xxx
  16. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    #16 jaymor, Mar 21, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
    Hi merryWive and welcome from me to the forum.

    So sorry for all the heartbreak you have suffered because of your experiences and so sorry you had not found this forum before your MIL's fall.

    Carers on here are very aware of admissions to hospital and though not in every case, to be aware of the fact that dementia is not understood too well.

    The same when it comes to having an anaesthetic. Everyone has to be made aware of the dementia and consultation with carer or relative is important if they are to give the appropriate treatment. Sadly there is still a long way to go before we get the understanding and appropriate care for someone living with dementia. Having said that our experience of two hospital stays has been positive, just the odd problem that was soon sorted.

    Please keep using TP and hopefully we can help in the future.
  17. MerryWive

    MerryWive Registered User

    Mar 20, 2015

    Thanks Jay, yes it is good to see growing awareness of the issues around dementia and hospital stays in general. For us I'm sure it was just a dose of bad luck, but the apparent callousness of the doctors afterwards did not help, and it would have been appropriate of them to warn beforehand of possible outcomes. However, it would not have been possible to not operate on a broken hip and as I understand it not easy to slow down the operation for a patient in a busy London hospital. The woman I spoke to whose mother had a consultant who understood the need to take the op slowly was based in the SW somewhere like Devon or something. She said she begged the consultant to take it slowly and he was able to arrange that as his timetable was not chocablock as it would have been in London. (just hearsay I suppose but that is how I understand it).

    We didn't have time to do any research beforehand as it was an emergency operation. She was crying out in pain but could not communicate what the problem was. We didn't realise she had a fracture, she was just taken away and by the time you've had a chance to spin round they have operated on her. They must have known she had dementia but I suppose in their view it is a necessary risk they have to take.

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