Dementia Risk May be Associated with Route of Anesthesia

Jessica Ganga

The particular route of anesthesia among surgical patients may increase their risk of developing dementia, according to a recent propensity scorematched population-based cohort study.

Three methods of anesthesia were administered and examined for the study: general anesthesia with inhalation, general anesthesia without inhalation, and regional anesthesia. Patients included in the study were aged 20 years or older and underwent major elective surgery requiring one of the three types of anesthesia. Additionally, patients included in the study were hospitalized for 1 or more days in Taiwan.

In total, 63,750 patients were included in the study and were divided equally (n = 21,250) among the three anesthesia administration groups: inhalation anesthesia, noninhalation anesthesia, and regional anesthesia. The researchers found, after analysis, that "the incidence of dementia among surgical patients undergoing general anesthesia was higher than among those undergoing regional anesthesia."

Further, among those who underwent general anesthesia, the incidence rate for dementia was higher in the inhalation anesthesia group compared with the noninhalation group.

The researchers noted some limitations of the study including the fact that the study participants were only of Asian ethnicity and the prevalence of dementia was relatively low as the patients were younger than those in other datasets, comparatively.

Still, the authors felt that their findings were promising enough to warrant further examination in a randomized controlled trial.

This information, if our findings can be confirmed in a randomized controlled trial, can guide health policies in promoting early detection of dementia or dementia risk,” the authors concluded.



Sun M, Chen WM, Wu SY, Zhang J. Dementia risk after major elective surgery based on the route of anaesthesia: a propensity score-matched population-based cohort study. Lancet. 2023;55:101727. doi:10.1016/j.eclinm.2022.101727