Abnormal preoperative cognitive screening in aged surgical patients: a retrospective cohort analysis

Stephen H. Gregory, Christopher R. King, Arbi Ben Abdallah, Alex Kronzer, Troy S. Wildes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Preoperative cognitive dysfunction has been associated with adverse postoperative outcomes. There are limited data characterising the epidemiology of preoperative cognitive dysfunction in older surgical patients. Methods: This retrospective cohort included all patients ≥65 yr old seen at the Washington University preoperative clinic between January 2013 and June 2018. Cognitive screening was performed using the Short-Blessed Test (SBT) and Eight-Item Interview to Differentiate Aging and Dementia (AD8) screen. The primary outcome of abnormal cognitive screening was defined as SBT score ≥5 or AD8 score ≥2. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify associated factors. Results: Overall, 21 666 patients ≥65 yr old completed screening during the study period; 23.5% (n=5099) of cognitive screens were abnormal. Abnormal cognitive screening was associated with increasing age, decreasing BMI, male sex, non-Caucasian race, decreased functional independence, and decreased metabolic functional capacity. Patients with a history of stroke or transient ischaemic attack, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, hepatic cirrhosis, and heavy alcohol use were also more likely to have an abnormal cognitive screen. Predictive modelling showed no combination of patient factors was able to reliably identify patients who had a <10% probability of abnormal cognitive screening. Conclusions: Routine preoperative cognitive screening of unselected aged surgical patients often revealed deficits consistent with cognitive impairment or dementia. Such deficits were associated with increased age, decreased function, decreased BMI, and several common medical comorbidities. Further research is necessary to characterise the clinical implications of preoperative cognitive dysfunction and identify interventions that may reduce related postoperative complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-237
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive screening
  • dementia screening
  • geriatric surgery
  • neurocognitive dysfunction
  • perioperative medicine
  • preoperative assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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