Kristen Sparrow • April 03, 2020
Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is a common sequela following surgery and hospitalization. The prevention and management of POCD are important during clinical practice. POCD more commonly affects elderly patients who have undergone major surgery and can result in major decline in quality of life for both patients and their families. Acupuncture has been suggested as an effective intervention for many neurological disorders. In recent years, there are increasing interest in the use of acupuncture to prevent and treat POCD. In this review, we summarized the clinical and preclinical evidence of acupuncture on POCD using a narrative approach and discussed the potential mechanisms involved. The experimental details and findings of studies were summarized in tables and analyzed. Most of the clinical studies suggested that acupuncture before surgery could reduce the incidence of POCD and reduce the levels of systematic inflammatory markers. However, their reliability is limited by methodological flaws. Animal studies showed that acupuncture reduced cognitive impairment and the associated pathology after various types of surgery. It is possible that acupuncture modulates inflammation, oxidative stress, synaptic changes, and other cellular events to mitigate POCD. In conclusion, acupuncture is a potential intervention for POCD. More clinical studies with good research design are required to confirm its effectiveness. At the same time, findings from animal studies will help reveal the protective mechanisms, in which system(at)ic inflammation is likely to play a major role.
Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is a common complication of the surgical experience and is common in the elderly and patients with preexisting neurocognitive disorders. Animal and human studies suggest that neuroinflammation from either surgery or anesthesia is a major contributor to the development of POCD. Moreover, a large and growing body of literature has focused on identifying potential risk factors for the development of POCD, as well as identifying candidate treatments based on the neuroinflammatory hypothesis. However, variability in animal models and clinical cohorts makes it difficult to interpret the results of such studies, and represents a barrier for the development of treatment options for POCD. Here, we present a broad topical review of the literature supporting the role of neuroinflammation in POCD. We provide an overview of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of POCD from pre-clinical and human studies. We offer a brief discussion of the ongoing debate on the root cause of POCD. We conclude with a list of current and hypothesized treatments for POCD, with a focus on recent and current human randomized clinical trials.