Many years ago after my dad was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia he developed an abdominal hernia. We faced the question to have him go in for a correctional operation or to just monitor the situation. One of the factors we took into consideration was the knowledge that certain anesthetics can cause a speeding up of dementia problems. With this knowledge we decided to go ahead with the corrective surgery because we could take the time to speak with the surgeon and anesthesiologist about our concerns and make sure they used other medications for the surgery and recovery. If we had just monitored the situation we could’ve been in a situation where immediate, emergency surgery was required and we wouldn’t have had the same input into which medications were used.
At the time, the correlation between anesthesia and dementia wasn’t widely accepted and often considered to be apocryphal (Dad’s surgeon humored us with our request). Recently, however, research has shown that this is true, especially with sevoflurane.
Research has shown mice exposed to sevoflurane have elevated levels of the enzyme that allows beta-amyloid proteins to form plaques, which is the cause of Alzheimer’s.
So, if you have concerns about developing dementia or have a loved one with early onset dementia be cautious about undergoing elective surgeries or speak with your doctor about the possibilities of using local or regional anesthesia for the proceedure.