Elderly surgical patients constitute a unique surgical group. They require special consideration in order to preempt the long term adverse effects of anesthesia. This paper examines the proposition that general anesthesia causes harm to elderly patients with its impact being felt long after the anesthetic agents are cleared from the body. One complication, Postoperative Cognitive Decline (POCD), is associated with the administration of anesthesia and deep sedation. Its' occurrence may herald an increase in morbidity and mortality. Based on both human and animal data, this paper outlines a unitary theoretical framework to explain these phenomena. If this hypothesis proves to be correct, anesthesiologist should consider regional rather than general anesthesia for equivalent surgical procedures to reduce POCD and consequently achieving superior patient outcome.
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