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Anesthesia can affect your brain long after surgery

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2015 | Brain Injuries

When we have to undergo surgery, we understand that there can be risks. Of particular concern in many operations is protecting the well-being of a patient’s brain. The brain is susceptible to potential injury not only during procedures that involve the head directly, but any procedure that involves general anesthesia.

When issued general anesthesia, a patient is rendered completely unconscious. The reason for doing this is so that the patient will not move during the surgery. Additionally, anesthesia will prohibit the patient from remembering the surgery.

Currently, it is believed that the various drugs used in the process act upon the surface of neurons in the brain associated with memory, learning, sleep and attention. Further, it appears the drugs may do something that activates unconsciousness.

Usually this is not a problem. But it is possible for a patient to develop what is called “postoperative delirium,” which can cause memory loss or a condition of serious confusion. A patient could even experience hallucinations and have difficulty communicating. These issues usually subside within a day or two after the operation.

However, a patient’s memory and attention span may be affected for months or even years. These effects are most profound in older patients. Researchers are now of the belief that the amount of anesthesia a patient receives can affect the likelihood of postoperative delirium.

Medical professionals must take great care when administering the powerful drugs used in general anesthesia. These drugs can have a profound effect on the brain’s ability to function.

If you or a family member has suffered brain injuries due to the negligence of a medical professional, you may wish to explore the possibility of filing a medical malpractice suit. An Arizona attorney who handles medical-related cases may be able to offer advice and guidance regarding your best available legal options.