Study Confirms Anesthesia Risk in Elderly
The warnings given for decades by noted anesthesiologist Dr. Barry Friedberg about the risk of brain damage during major surgery have been validated by a recent study announced by the National Institutes of Health.
Study findings published in October 2012 provide clear and indisputable evidence that use of a brain monitor while a patient is anesthetized during surgery significantly reduces the risk of delirium and postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD).
The study in 921 elderly patients (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23027226) confirms the self-evident claims made by Dr. Friedberg about the dangers of over-medicating during surgery. Dr. Friedberg authored a book on the subject and formed the non-profit Goldilocks Anesthesia Foundation http://www.goldilocksfoundation.com to educate the public about avoiding the hidden dangers from anesthesia over-medication by the use of brain monitors during surgery.
Says Friedberg, “Over 2,000 years ago, the Greeks carved this concept into stone, ‘All things in moderation, nothing in excess.”
Written for the general public, Getting Over Going Under: 5 Things You MUST Know Before Anesthesia (ISBN 978-0-9829169-0-2, 2010, Goldilocks Press, 116 pages, $18.95) Dr. Friedberg explains that every time a patient has anesthesia for surgery there are dual risks of under-medication (anesthesia awareness) or over-medication (brain scrambled) – preventable risks when using a brain monitor.
This large clinical study in major, non-cardiac surgery also projected that for every 1,000 patients brain monitoring would prevent delirium in 83 patients and POCD in another 23 within 30 days after surgery.
“Elderly patients’ brains are more sensitive to anesthesia over medication. More boomers and their parents are aging and having surgery under anesthesia. Substantial financial costs caring for mentally damaged post-op patients could be averted by implementation of routine brain monitoring,” according to Dr. Friedberg.
“The study findings validate my commitment to inform patients facing surgery that it is their right to insist upon brain monitoring to prevent the horrors of over-medication and under-medication,” said Dr. Friedberg. “As I noted in my book, too many anesthesiologists still gauge anesthesia response using the classical but notoriously unreliable signs of heart rate and blood pressure changes. Most do not rely upon a brain monitor, the best technology available.”
Two decades ago, Dr. Friedberg, developed a safer anesthesia protocol, subsequently made numerically reproducible with the brain monitor and earning him a U.S. Congressional award. Among the findings in Getting Over Going Under is that about 80 percent of the surgeries in the U.S. put patients at risk of being afflicted with delirium, POCD or even permanent brain damage because a brain monitor is not used.