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Postoperative cognitive dysfunction after sevoflurane or propofol general anaesthesia in combination with spinal anaesthesia for hip arthroplasty

Centre for Anaesthesia and Cognitive Function, Department of Anaesthesia and Acute Pain Medicine, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria


It is unknown if the type of general anaesthetic used for maintenance of anaesthesia affects the incidence of postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD). The aim of this study was to compare the incidence of POCD in patients administered either sevoflurane or propofol for maintenance of anaesthesia during total hip replacement surgery. Following administration of a spinal anaesthetic, patients received either sevoflurane (n=121) or propofol (n=171) at the discretion of the anaesthetist for maintenance of general anaesthesia to maintain the processed electroencephalogram (bispectral index, BIS) under 60. POCD was assessed postoperatively at day 7, three months, and 12 months using a neurocognitive test battery. There was no statistically significant difference between the incidence of POCD at any timepoint with sevoflurane compared to propofol. The mean BIS was significantly lower in the sevoflurane group than in the propofol group (mean BIS 44.3 [standard deviation, SD 7.5] in the sevoflurane group versus 53.7 [SD 8.1] in the propofol group, P=0.0001). However, there was no statistically significant association between intraoperative BIS level and the incidence of POCD at any timepoint. Our results suggest that the incidence of POCD is not strongly influenced by the type of anaesthesia used in elderly patients.

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