Older people who undergo general anaesthesia during surgery have an increased risk of developing dementia, new research suggests.
While the numbers are relatively small, people over the age of 50 who underwent general anaesthetic had a doubled risk of developing dementia after surgery.
The Taiwanese research – published in the British Journal of Psychiatry – examined the records of 25,000 patients, aged 50 or over, who had undergone anaesthesia for the first time between 2004 and 2008, and compared them to 111,000 patients who had not received such medication. A total of 2.65% of those anaesthetised had developed dementia compared to 1.39% of those who had not.
Lead researcher Dr Jong-Ling Fuh, of the Taipei-Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, said the results "highlight the need for further studies".