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Response to surgical stress in elderly patients and Alzheimer’s disease

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To determine the effect of surgical stress on plasma epinephrine, norepinephrine, ACTH and cortisol concentrations in patients aged 80–99 yr and in patients complicated with Alzheimer’s disease.


A prospective controlled study was undertaken in 55 undergoing surgical reduction of femur neck fracture in Hirosaki University hospital and Hakodate Watanabe hospital; 18 patients in 80–99 yr (Group I) and 18 patients in 40–59 yr (Group 2) and 7 patients (Group A) with and 12 patients (Group B) without Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) aged 60–79 yr.


The increase in plasma norepinephrine level (274%) of group I patients, 15 min after skin incision was higher than that in group 2 (191 %) (P < 0.01). Mean plasma cortisol levels (40.4 ± 4.7 and 44.1 ± 5.2 μg·dl−1) of group 1,15 min after skin incision and 60 min after the end of surgery were significantly higher than the 29.8 ±3.5 and 22.3 ± 3.0μg·dl−1 of group 2 (P < 0.05). Plasma norepinephrine (1092.9 ± 112.0 pg·ml−1) and cortisol concentrations (53.4 ± 5.8 μg·dl−1) in group A were higher than in group B (772.6 ± 82.4 pg·ml−1 and 41.7 ± 4.3 μg·dl−1) 15 min after skin incision (P< 0.05).


Plasma norepinephrine and cortisol responses to surgical stress are activated in elderly patients and in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.



Déterminer l’effet du stress chirurgical sur la concentration plasmatique d’épinéphrine, de norépinéphrine, d’ACTH et de cortisol chez des patients de 80–99 ans et chez des patients atteints de la maladie d’Alzheimer.


On a entrepris l’étude prospective et contrôlée de 55 patients, devant subir une réduction de fracture du col du fémur aux hôpitaux Hirosaki University et Hakodate Watanabe, répartis comme suit: 18 dans le Groupe I (80-99 ans) et 18 dans le Groupe 2 (40-59 ans); 7 dans le Groupe A (démence d’Alzheimer DA) et 12 dans le Groupe B (sans DA) âgés de 60–79 ans.


L’augmentation de la norépinéphrine plasmatique (274 %) était plus grande chez les patients du Groupe I que chez ceux du Groupe 2(191 %), 15 min après l’incision cutanée (P < 0,01). Les niveaux moyens de cortisol (40,4 ± 4,7 et 44,1 ± 5,2 μg·dl−1) du Groupe 1, 15 min après l’incision cutanée et 60 min après la fin de la chirurgie, ont été plus élevés que les niveaux enregistrés dans le Groupe 2 (29,8 ± 3,5 et 22,3 ±3,0 μg·dl−1) de façon significative (P < 0,05). Les concentrations plasmatiques de norépinéphrine (1092,9 ± 112,0 pg·ml−1) et de cortisol (53,4 ± 5,8 μg·dl−1) étaient plus élevées dans le Groupe A que dans le Groupe B (772,6 ± 82,4 pg·ml−1 et 41,7 ± 4,3 μg·dl−1) 15 min après l’incision cutanée (P < 0,05).


Les changements plasmatiques de norépinéphrine et de cortisol reliés au stress chirurgical sont plus marqués chez les patients âgés ou souffrant de la maladie d’Alzheimer.


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Correspondence to Akira Kudoh.

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Kudoh, A., Ishihara, H. & Matsuki, A. Response to surgical stress in elderly patients and Alzheimer’s disease. Can J Anesth 46, 247–252 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03012604

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  • Cortisol
  • Skin Incision
  • Plasma Cortisol
  • Femoral Neck Fracture
  • Cortisol Concentration