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Effect of sugammadex versus neostigmine/atropine combination on postoperative cognitive dysfunction after elective surgery

2nd Department of Anaesthesiology, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, “Attikon” Hospital, Athens, Greece


This study aimed to assess the effects of sugammadex and neostigmine/atropine on postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) in adult patients after elective surgery. A randomised, double-blind controlled trial was carried out on 160 American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status I to III patients who were >40 years. The Mini–Mental State Evaluation, clock-drawing test and the Isaacs Set test were used to assess cognitive function at three timepoints: 1) preoperatively, 2) one hour postoperatively, and 3) at discharge. The anaesthetic protocol was the same for all patients, except for the neuromuscular block reversal, which was administered by random allocation using either sugammadex or neostigmine/atropine after the reappearance of T2 in the train-of-four sequence. POCD was defined as a decline ≥1 standard deviation in ≥2 cognitive tests. The incidence of POCD was similar in both groups at one hour postoperatively and at discharge (28% and 10%, in the neostigmine group, 23% and 5.4% in the sugammadex group, P=0.55 and 0.27 respectively). In relation to individual tests, a significant decline of clock-drawing test in the neostigmine group was observed at one hour postoperatively and at discharge. For the Isaacs Set test, a greater decline was found in the sugammadex group. These findings suggest that there are no clinically important differences in the incidence of POCD after neostigmine or sugammadex administration.

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