Neurologic injury following cardiac surgery increases mortality and length of ICU and hospital stay, and reduces the likelihood of a return to independent living. Cardiac surgical patients are largely ignorant of this complication. Manifestations. Brain injury following cardiac surgery ranges in severity from subtle changes in personality, behavior and cognitive function to fatal brain injury – the “cerebral catastrophe” (Table 70.1). In most cases a neurologic injury becomes evident as soon as the patient emerges from anesthesia. In a small number of patients, however, significant injury may develop following a “lucid interval” lasting several hours to several days after surgery.
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