Cognitive Decline After Open Heart Surgery No Longer an Issue

Advances in technique and technology enable patients to emerge from surgical revascularization with their thinking intact.


In the early days of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), it was not unusual for patients to suffer memory loss, cognitive dysfunction, depression or another form of neurological dysfunction following their surgery. A study conducted in 2001 found that five years after CABG, 42% of older patients showed measureable cognitive decline. The complication, widely known as “pump head,” was attributed to tiny gas bubbles or particles generated by the heart-lung machine (“pump”).

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