UF neurologist studies use of brain wave test prior to surgery in seniors

By Michelle Koidin Jaffee

Maria Bruzzone
Dr. Maria Bruzzone

University of Florida neurologist Maria Bruzzone, M.D., is researching whether routinely using a brain wave test in adults over age 65 to detect certain brain changes prior to undergoing surgery with anesthesia could help predict the likelihood of cognitive complications after surgery. The research is being funded by the Alzheimer’s Association.

Under a new $120,000 grant, Bruzzone will examine whether there is a link between having specific brain changes before surgery and the development of delirium or other cognitive changes after surgery. The research involves using a brain wave monitor called an electroencephalogram, or EEG, to detect specific changes in the brain that may occur during sleep.

These specific changes are more frequently noticed in people with dementia or other cognitive impairment, according to previous research. An estimated 20% of seniors preparing for surgery have preexisting signs of neurocognitive disorders, but currently many of them go undiagnosed before surgery.

Working with colleagues at UF’s Perioperative Cognitive Anesthesia Network, Bruzzone will research the impact of providing a routine EEG along with cognitive screening to help identify signs of dementia or other cognitive disorder in people over 65 before they undergo surgery with anesthesia. The goal is to determine whether pre-surgery detection of these biological changes could be used to predict development of short- or long-term cognitive decline after surgery with anesthesia.

“By investigating the value of routine pre-surgical EEG coupled with cognitive screening, I hope to improve the identification of at-risk older adults undergoing surgery with anesthesia,” Bruzzone said. “As both the number of older adults with cognitive vulnerabilities and those undergoing surgical procedures increase exponentially, this is an issue that must be addressed.”