Postoperative hypoxia is a contributory factor to cognitive impairment after cardiac surgery.
Browne SM., Halligan PW., Wade DT., Taggart DP.
OBJECTIVE: Cognitive dysfunction and postoperative hypoxia are common sequelae of coronary artery bypass grafting, but there has been no study to determine whether there is any relationship between them. METHODS: Arterial blood gas measurements were performed before surgical intervention and on the second and fifth postoperative day, and neuropsychological assessments were performed before surgical intervention and 5 days and 3 months postoperatively by using a battery of 10 psychometric tests in 175 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. An estimate of overall performance on the battery at each assessment point was provided by a simple aggregate cognitive index score calculated from the mean z scores of 4 normally distributed test variables. Multiple regression analysis was performed by using the cognitive index score at day 5 as the dependent variable, with age, sex, duration of the operation, presence or absence of cardiopulmonary bypass, preoperative cognitive index score, and arterial oxygenation and percentage of saturation at day 5 as independent variables. RESULTS: The mean cognitive index score decreased significantly in 115 (66%) patients who agreed to neuropsychological test battery assessment on the fifth postoperative day but improved significantly beyond baseline at 3 months. Mean arterial oxygen tension and percentage of saturation decreased significantly 2 days after the operation and, although improving over the following 3 days, remained decreased at day 5. Decreased cognitive index scores at day 5 strongly predicted cognitive impairment at 3 months (r = 0.36). The only significant independent predictors of the day 5 cognitive index score in the multiple regression analysis were preoperative cognitive index score and arterial oxygenation tension at day 5 (r = 0.24, P <.03). CONCLUSIONS: We report a significant correlation between postoperative cognitive dysfunction and hypoxia 5 days after coronary artery bypass grafting. This finding might have therapeutic implications because early postoperative cognitive dysfunction influences long-term impairment.