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Bettelli G.,INRCA Italian National Research Centres on Aging
Minerva Anestesiologica | Year: 2011

The demand for elective and emergency surgery by older patients is increasing. This review examines the current practice of preoperative evaluation in geriatric anesthesia and provides an overview of new insights in this field. Preoperative anesthesia consultation is essential to examine the patient, evaluate the operative risk and plan preventive perioperative actions. Chronological age probably represents an independent risk factor. Age should not be considered an exclusion criterion from surgery per se. More than 50% of patients over 70 years old suffer from one infirmity, and 30% suffer from two or more infirmities. Hypertension is the most common disease, followed by coronary artery disease, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Aging processes, illnesses, malnutrition, difficulties in communication and comprehension, psychological alterations and social needs may coexist and overlap. Changes in pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics induced by aging make elderly patients very sensitive to drugs, especially those administered perioperatively. Drug underuse, misuse and abuse are described, together with criteria to manage perioperative medications. Disability, dementia and frailty are risk factors for adverse outcomes and delirium after surgery. Traditional anesthesia consultation captures only a small portion of the necessary information, especially about functional status and frailty. Although the association between older age and surgical complications is well known, most anesthetists and surgeons do not measure physical and cognitive function preoperatively. Extending anesthesia consultation to functional status provides useful information for preoperative counseling and planning of postoperative care. A strong joint action with the surgical team is essential. Currently, while many resources are employed to assess preoperative cardiac risk and despite the dramatic increase in the number of elderly surgical patients, the association between older age itself and surgical complications has not been fully investigated, and preoperative evaluation of functional status is not yet a part of routine preoperative practice. Creating a new culture and developing appropriate clinical, scientific and relational approaches to these patients represent the core of the challenge. © 2011 Edizioni Minerva Medica.

Bettelli G.,INRCA Italian National Research Centres on Aging
Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology | Year: 2010

Purpose of Review: Epidemiological data show a continuous expansion of elderly population, associated with an increased demand for surgical treatments by older patients. Geriatric anaesthesia is emerging as a new subspecialty. Outpatient anaesthesia for elderly patients requires greater specific knowledge and skills. Given the high economic and social pressure, anaesthetists will be requested to treat an increasing number of elderly as outpatients. Recent Findings: Functional status as a criterion for preoperative assessment of older patients has been introduced in the last years. In comparison to inpatient, outpatient setting seems to reduce the risk of postoperative cognitive disorders after surgery. Heart failure has shown to be an important risk factor of perioperative complication and death in the elderly; when more than mild, it contraindicates day surgery. Drug-eluting stents, which require a double antiaggregative therapy for 12 months after positioning, formally exclude patients from day surgery for that period. Sedation as a part of Monitored Anaesthesia Care (MAC) has shown to be potentially dangerous, due to increased risk of hypoxic complications and increased likelihood of cognitive disturbances. Effective postoperative pain treatment after geriatric day surgery requires careful pain assessment and drug titration. In the future, the development of telematic communication systems will extend indications. Summary: Recent findings contribute to a better comprehension of the most important specificities of elderly patients undergoing day surgery and provide basic elements for a safe perioperative management in the outpatient setting. © 2010 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Giampieri M.,INRCA Italian National Research Centres on Aging
Minerva Anestesiologica | Year: 2012

Physician-patient relationship is the key-point for an optimal management of any medical procedure. Before performing any diagnostic or therapeutic procedure, clinical communication with patients is necessary. It should regard the nature and purpose of a proposed procedure including potential risks and benefits. During physician-patient communication, alternatives, as well as the risks and benefits of not receiving or undergoing a procedure should also be disclosed. Thus, a complete physician-patient clinical communication is the basis of "shared decision-making" and plays a clinical-therapeutic role in the informed consent process in order to improve patient care. Informed consent is a delicate process of communication between a patient and physician necessary for patient authorization for any medical intervention. The success of achieving good informed consent procedure depends on the strength of the relationship between the doctor and the patient. For this reason, the traditional paternalistic relationship, in which decisions were made by the doctor, is no longer appropriate. Therefore, the use of a model which allows for a greater patient involvement in the decision making process is fundamental. This approach allows for a clearer impact on patient values. The aspects of the procedure related to these values, combined with the technical and scientific considerations of the doctor, are the basis of a shared decision making process, in which the patient is actively involved. Therefore, an informed consent is not simply the acquisition of the patient's signature, but a real process based on the dialogue between doctor and patient. This dialogue is particularly delicate in some circumstances, such as geriatric medicine and anesthesiology. Seeking consent is part of a respectful relationship with an older person. Adults are almost always considered capable of making personal healthcare decisions. Older adults should also be considered capable of handling their own healthcare where the idea that old age or frailty may inhibit ones' decisional capacity. It is essential to provide appropriate and accessible information for each individual case in order to confirm patient comprehension, especially in the presence of possible coexisting disabilities (i.e., cognitive impairment, presbyacusia, visual disturbances, etc.). The informed consent process should therefore be adapted to patient understanding linked to level of education, and personality. Cognitive impairment may limit the ability to actively participate in the process. In this context, physicians deal with three different situations on a daily basis: 1) patients with good cognitive functioning; 2) patients with various degrees of cognitive impairment; 3) patients with a legal guardian. The aim of this review was to discuss patterns of an accurate, empathetic and effective communication process that may be used during the informed consent process with a particular attention to the emerging problems in the practice of anesthesia in the elderly. Copyright© 2012 Edizioni Minerva Medica.

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