Booster Shots

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Perhaps the answer for elderly surgical patients is less sedation

January 20, 2010 | 11:04 am

Anesthesia The question was: What can be done about postoperative delirium?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins gave it some thought, conducted a double-blind, randomized study (the gold standard) of elderly patients undergoing hip fracture repair and concluded that, hmm, maybe they shouldn't be sedated quite so heavily.

Here's the abstract, published in the January issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. It concludes:

"The use of light propofol sedation decreased the prevalence of postoperative delirium by 50% compared with deep sedation. Limiting depth of sedation during spinal anesthesia is a simple, safe, and cost-effective intervention for preventing postoperative delirium in elderly patients that could be widely and readily adopted."

Here's a related editorial urging caution.

And if the word "propofol" rings a bell, it should. It was the much-discussed drug found in Michael Jackson's body after his death: Jackson pleaded with doctor for powerful anesthetic, records show

Very different uses though. Very.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times