MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Strokes, seizures and other neurological complications related to heart surgery account for "considerable morbidity and mortality," Loyola University Health System neurologists report in the November issue of the journal Hospital Practice.
Other complications include delirium, central nervous system infections, pituitary gland problems, spinal cord or peripheral nerve injuries, residual effects of anesthesia and medication toxicity.
Complications can involve any part of the central and peripheral nervous systems. "Neurologic complications are always a risk with cardiac surgery, especially in older patients who have other health problems," said Dr. José Biller, first author of the article and chairman of the Department of Neurology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Strokes are the most common neurologic complication after cardiac surgery in adults. In children, seizures are the most common neurologic complication.
However, Biller said patients should not be afraid to undergo cardiac procedures. Many complications are rare. And despite the risks, cardiac surgeries generally "are highly beneficial and life-saving," he said.
Biller and colleagues summarized results of previously published studies. They examined neurologic complications related to cardiac catheterization exams, balloon angioplasties, ablation therapies for heart rhythm disorders, heart bypass surgeries, thoracic aortic surgeries, surgeries for congenital heart disease, cardiac valve surgeries, heart transplants, surgeries for heart tumors and procedures to close a hole in the heart called a patent foramen ovale.
"Neurologic complications remain an important cause of morbidity, hospitalization time and mortality following cardiac surgery and interventional cardiac procedures," Biller and his colleagues wrote. "Evaluation of these complications requires an orderly and systematic approach. Prompt identification of these deficits is key in planning appropriate evaluation and optimal management. Further research in this area is needed."
Co-authors are Dr. Sara Hocker of the Mayo Clinic Department of Neurology and Dr. Sarkis Morales-Vidal of Loyola's Department of Neurology.
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.