DG Journal Club
BACKGROUND Given that population aging is a global health challenge, the high prevalence of postoperative neurocognitive impairment in elderly patients necessitates the development of novel simple and effective prevention methods.
OBJECTIVE To evaluate the effects of perioperative application of oral probiotic as a prophylaxis for cognitive impairment in elderly patients following non-cardiac surgery.
METHODS This randomised double-blind and placebo-controlled trial included 120 elderly patients (in a modified intention-to-treat analysis) scheduled for elective orthopaedic or colorectal surgery. Patients were assigned to receive either probiotics or a placebo from hospital admission until discharge. The primary endpoint was the incidence of postoperative cognitive impairment, defined as a decrease of ≥3 points in the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores from admission baseline to the 7th day post-surgery. Secondary endpoints included changes in plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) and cortisol, postoperative pain intensity, postoperative sleep quality, gastrointestinal function recovery, and faecal microbiota composition.
RESULTS The incidence of postoperative cognitive impairment in the probiotic group was significantly lower than in the control group (3 of 59 patients [5.1%] vs. 10 of 61 patients [16.4%], P = 0.046). In addition, compared to pre-surgery, the levels of plasma IL-6 and cortisol in the probiotic group decreased more than in the control group 5-7 days after surgery (IL-6: -117.90 ± 49.15 vs. -14.93 ± 15.21, P = 0.044; cortisol: -158.70 ± 53.52 vs. 40.98 ± 72.48, P = 0.010). Relative abundance at the genus level in the faeces of the probiotic group also changed more than in that of the control group during the perioperative period. In contrast, postoperative pain intensity, sleep quality, and gastrointestinal function recovery did not differ significantly between the two groups.
CONCLUSION Perioperative application of oral probiotic prevents postoperative cognitive impairment in elderly patients following non-cardiac surgery, possibly via the limitation of peripheral inflammation and the stress response.