Postoperative reading speed does not indicate implicit memory in elderly cardiac patients after propofol and remifentanyl anaesthesia

S. Münte*, T. F. Münte, B. Mitzlaff, R. Walz, M. Leuwer, S. Piepenbrock

*Corresponding author for this work
9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A recent study in young patients undergoing propofol-alfentanil-nitrous oxide anaesthesia demonstrated implicit memory for stories presented during operation using a postoperative reading speed task. In this study we investigated whether patients who tolerate only small amounts of anaesthetics are prone to develop implicit and explicit memories about intraoperative events. Methods: Thirty patients with poor physical status (ASA III-IV) undergoing cardioverter defibrillator implantation were included in the study. Patients were premedicated with intravenous midazolam and anaesthesia was maintained using propofol and remifentanil infusions. During surgery one of two audio-tapes containing two short stories was played to the patients. Reading speed for the stories played during surgery and two similar stories from the other tape was tested 4 h later. Explicit memory was tested at 4 h and 24 h after audiotape presentation using a structured interview and a forced-choice recognition test pertaining to the story content. Thirty additional awake subjects served as controls. Results: Although half of the patients seemed to be awake one or more times during the operation, no explicit memories of intraoperative events were reported. The forced-choice recognition of the stories was at chance level. No effect on reading speed was found in either the patients or the control subjects. Conclusions: The possible reasons for reduced explicit and implicit memory performance in elderly patients are age and poor physical status of the patients and the modality change between study and test phases. A non-anaesthetised control group of the same age and physical status should therefore be included in all studies of implicit memory.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)750-755
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 16.07.2001

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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