HealthDay News — Receiving general anesthesia for surgery after age 40 doesn’t appear to raise the risk for mild cognitive impairment later in life, according to a study published online Jan. 20 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Mayo Clinic researchers followed 1731 individuals in Minnesota, aged 70 to 89, who had normal cognitive function when the study began in 2004. About 85% of the participants had at least 1 surgery requiring general anesthesia after age 40. The study participants were evaluated every 15 months.

Of the participants, 31% developed mild cognitive impairment during the study period, but it was not associated with their anesthesia exposure, the researchers said.

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“The bottom line of our study is that we did not find an association between exposure to anesthesia for surgery and the development of mild cognitive impairment in these patients,” senior author and anesthesiologist David Warner, MD, said in a Mayo news release.


Sprung J, Roberts RO, Knopman DS, et al. Association of Mild Cognitive Impairment With Exposure to General Anesthesia for Surgical and Nonsurgical Procedures: A Population-Based Study. Mayo Clin Proc. 2016; doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.10.023.