Possible link between surgeries and memory problems

January 3, 2008 2:10:47 PM PST
People 60 and older who undergo major surgeries such as joint replacements and hysterectomies may be at risk of having memory problems.

Duke University researchers tested the memory and brain function in more than 1,000 elective-surgery patients of different ages. The study found that many patients experienced post-operative cognitive dysfunction at the time they left the hospital. But three months later those over the age of 60 were more than twice as likely to exhibit memory problems.

It's not clear what causes the memory loss, but experts say the surgery and anesthesia may cause swelling in the brain that can affect the patient's cognitive skills.