More than 300,000 seniors end up in the hospital each year for hip fractures.
It’s usually because of a fall, and surgery is the most common treatment. Others elect to have a hip replacement to relieve chronic arthritis pain.
In both cases, there’s’ a frightening truth that’s seldom spoken of. The surgery can leave you in a demented state for days, weeks, months, or even YEARS.
But it doesn’t have to.
Chances are your surgeon never tells you the real risks. Or he doesn’t make them clear. So, you say, “Just knock me out, doc,” expecting to feel fine once you wake up.
More often than not, doctors never even tell patients there’s another option.
I’ll have more on that other option in a moment. But first, let’s take a closer look at that frightening anesthesia side effect.
General anesthesia linked to delirium
It’s a well-known fact that when you’re older, general anesthesia can leave you feeling disturbed, confused, and unable to make logical choices.
Doctors even have a label for it: “delirium.”
Delirium can range from feeling foggy, forgetful, and restless to being completely incoherent and even hallucinating.
It happens more often when you’re a senior because the drug takes longer to clear your system. Which means if you’re older it can cause more damage than in a younger person.
And perhaps most frightening of all is that it isn’t rare. In fact, it’s a common side effect. And there’s no telling if you’ll bounce back right away or not.
Scientists are still arguing among themselves about whether or not this frightening effect is likely to turn into permanent dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Regardless of what they decide there’s no arguing that some seniors never return to their usual selves.
You don’t have to “go under” for hip surgery
But here’s the thing. You DON’T have to “go under” for hip surgery. You may have another hidden option.
Hip surgery can also be done while you remain under a type of local anesthetic.
It’s not as simple as a numbing shot from the dentist, of course. But experts say it may be far safer in the end for seniors than general anesthesia.
It’s technically called a regional anesthetic.
Your anesthesiologist injects it into your spine to numb the lower half of your body. It’s much like the spinal injections given to some women when they’re in labor.
Hidden anesthesia option could be FAR safer for seniors
You’ll likely never hear about it from your surgeon or anesthesiologist until YOU bring it up. But rest assured this isn’t just a theory, either.
Research has shown that hip surgery with a regional anesthetic is much safer.
One Canadian study, conducted at the University of Toronto, compared regional and general anesthesia in 833 pairs of patients who had fractured their hips.
With regional numbing, patients…
- were less likely to die in the next 90 days
- had less complications, including blood clots and major blood loss
- didn’t have to stay in the hospital for as long
Another Korean study compared both types of anesthesia in more than 96,000 hip-surgery patients aged 65 and older. The researchers found that regional anesthesia reduced the same risks, and reduced risks of delirium, bleeding in the brain, and stroke too.
Rethink using sedatives with anesthesia
When regional anesthesia is used for hip surgery, some doctors may also want to give you a sedative to keep you calm.
But depending on the dose, that sedative could leave you feeling forgetful, foggy, and delirious, just like general anesthesia.
That’s what researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical School learned when they monitored the brain activity of patients during surgery.
They found sedation for some folks knocked them straight into unconsciousness. And the effects on the brain were essentially the same as if they were on general anesthesia.
So be sure to talk with your doctors about skipping the sedative with your regional anesthetic. If you do still get a sedative, ask the operating room staff to chat with you during the surgery.
If you aren’t able to carry on a conversation or at least say your name they can reduce the amount of sedative you get. That’s what doctors at Johns Hopkins are now doing.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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