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Correspondence  |   November 2007
Cognitive Impairment due to Surgery or Postoperative Complications?
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Moeen K. Panni, M.D., Ph.D.
    *
  • *University of Texas, Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas.
Article Information
Correspondence
Correspondence   |   November 2007
Cognitive Impairment due to Surgery or Postoperative Complications?
Anesthesiology 11 2007, Vol.107, 849. doi:10.1097/01.anes.0000287351.92953.38
Anesthesiology 11 2007, Vol.107, 849. doi:10.1097/01.anes.0000287351.92953.38
To the Editor:—
We read with interest the investigation by Dr. Wan et al  .1 of postoperative impairment of cognitive function in rats. We would like to ask whether the investigators believe there was an adequate control group with which to compare the results of their surgical intervention. In addition to the neuroleptic analgesia group alone, it may have been advantageous to include a sham surgical group that received a similar skin incision to the splenectomized group of rats with postoperative treatment of bupivacaine infiltration. This may have permitted an assessment of the contribution of a surgical incision alone with wound infiltration of 0.25% bupivacaine, because, contrary to the suggestion by the authors, the two groups of rats may not have received identical anesthetic regimens, i.e  ., there was no assessment of the contribution of the local anesthetic infiltration. Bupivacaine has been shown on its own to suppress systemic cytokine activation when given locally or systemically.2 
The investigators suggest the neuroinflammatory changes are related solely to the splenectomy surgical injury and not to other factors, such as the development of postoperative infection, which may or may not have been recognized in these rats. Splenectomized animals would more likely develop postoperative infections, and that by itself may alter neurocytokine levels.3 In addition, surgical healing and its potential impairment of full ambulation in the rats after splenectomy may have also contributed to their difficulty in completing the learning maze, which may or may not have been related to neurocognitive impairment. A few animals with postoperative infection or impairment in their ambulation may have skewed the results on days 1 and 3 after surgery and may explain the large range of learning abilities seen in the Y-maze testing on those days. It would be interesting to note whether there were individual animal correlates of increased neuroinflammation with increased learning times in the maze.
We appreciate the work presented by Dr. Wan et al  . because they raise important issues with regard to postoperative cognitive impairment and the role of inflammatory changes in the central nervous system.
*University of Texas, Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas.
References
Wan Y, Xu J, Ma D, Zeng Y, Cibelli M, Maze M: Postoperative impairment of cognitive function in rats: A possible role for cytokine-mediated inflammation in the hippocampus. Anesthesiology 2007; 106:436–43Wan, Y Xu, J Ma, D Zeng, Y Cibelli, M Maze, M
Beloeil H, Ji RR, Berde CB: Effects of bupivacaine and tetrodotoxin on carrageenan-induced hind paw inflammation in rats: I. Hyperalgesia, edema, and systemic cytokines. Anesthesiology 2006; 105:128–38Beloeil, H Ji, RR Berde, CB
Shatney CH: Complications of splenectomy. Anaesthesiol Belg 1987; 38:333–9Shatney, CH