Dr. Denise Uyar awarded AHW grant on Assessing Post-Operative Cognitive Dysfunction in the Elderly

Dr. Denise Uyar awarded AHW grant on Assessing Post-Operative Cognitive Dysfunction in the Elderly

Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is defined as a functional impairment of the nervous system, including executive function, psychomotor speed, and/or visuospatial abstraction (all of which are sub-domains of visual attentional control) in patients after surgery/anesthesia. The incidence of POCD has been observed in between 16-59% of patients at seven days post-op, and 12-34% at 12 weeks post-op, although the optimal timing of diagnosis is not known. Cognitive dysfunction after surgery and anesthesia has been recognized for decades, but understanding of the underlying neural mechanisms and which patients are at risk for this complication is still largely unknown. Data from the National Institutes of Health show that approximately 60,000 people have surgery under general anesthesia in the United States each day; thus, over 1,000 such procedures are being performed in Wisconsin on a daily basis. Published rates then suggest that a minimum of 50,000 cases of POCD are present in Wisconsin each year making this a highly impactful negative health consequence of surgical procedures in our state that must be addressed.

The researchers’ long-term goal is to identify the constellation of behavioral and brain-based markers of POCD in order to develop auxiliary therapies that will help to ameliorate the deleterious cognitive effects of general anesthesia. The overall objectives for this project, which are the next steps toward attainment of the team’s long-term goal, are to identify the precise attentional sub-processes that are compromised by anesthesia-induced POCD and measure the short-term timing of POCD attention symptoms in the initial month after surgery.

“The Department of OBGYN, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, looks forward to this new collaboration with Dr. Adam Greenberg, Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Director of The Sensory Neuroscience, Attention, & Perception Laboratory (SNAP Lab) on this study evaluating cognition before and after administration of general anesthesia.”