Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Post-operative Pain, Cognition, and PCA Techniques
Pain may contribute to cognitive decline, which is a common complication in the early postoperative period. We compared the effects of two common pain management techniques, intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (PCA-IV) and patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA), on cognitive functioning in the immediate postoperative period. Patients hospitalized for elective surgery were randomly assigned to one of the treatment groups (30 patients per group). A battery of objective, standardized neuropsychological tests was administered preoperatively and 24 hours after surgery. Pain intensity was also evaluated. Nonoperated volunteers served as controls. Patients of the PCA-IV group exhibited significantly higher pain scores than did patients of the PCEA group. PCA-IV patients exhibited significant deterioration in the postoperative period in all the neuropsychological measures, while the PCEA patients exhibited significant deterioration only in one cognitive index, compared to controls.
Keywords: Cognitive function; Local anaesthetics; Opiates; PCA-IV; PCEA; Postoperative pain