There is one clinical trial.
Low cobalamin (vitamin B12) levels are frequent in the elderly. Most often they reflect a mild metabolic abnormality without clinical symptoms (subclinical cobalamin deficiency). It is unclear if these elderly people require medical intervention, unlike that small minority with clinical symptoms which can progress and create severe blood or nervous system problems. The study aims to determine if nitrous oxide (N2O), a common anesthetic agent, worsens cobalamin status in elderly patients with unrecognized subclinical cobalamin deficiency. The reason for concern is that N2O inactivates cobalamin and can aggravate the clinical picture of patients who already have clinical manifestations of cobalamin deficiency. The elderly are known to have an increased risk of developing mental changes after surgery and it may be that sometimes these result from aggravation of subclinical cobalamin deficiency. The study recruits people over the age of 60 years who are undergoing clinically indicated elective surgery requiring general anesthesia for more than 1 hour. Patients meeting exclusion and inclusion criteria are randomized to receive either a standard anesthetic regimen that includes N2O or a nearly identical one without N2O. Before surgery and 2 weeks and 4 weeks after surgery, each patient undergoes (1) a broad battery of tests of cognition and mood and (2) blood tests measuring cobalamin, folate and homocysteine-methionine metabolism to determine whether they have any subtle biochemical impairment of cobalamin status. DNA from blood cells is also tested for the presence of common mutations that affect key enzymes in those metabolic pathways. A brief testing for postoperative delirium is also done 2 hours after surgery. The patient subgroups' are analyzed for neuropsychologic changes over time, using the preoperative test as the baseline for all comparisons, and associations of those changes with metabolic, genetic, demographic and clinical data. The primary question is what effect routine N2O exposure has on the latter compared with non-N2O anesthesia in elderly people who either have or do not have subclinical cobalamin deficiency. It will help answer whether or not the combination can help explain the increased risk of cognitive problems after surgery in elderly patients, and by extension whether preoperative cobalamin testing and treatment may be indicated in the elderly. It will also test whether genetic predisposition affects the described problems.
Gene Polymorphism Analyses: - DNA is extracted from preoperative blood samples, and purified DNA is stored at -80C. - The 677C-T and 1298A-C mutations of MTHFR are determined by standard techniques; - The methionine synthase 2756A-G (D919G) mutation is identified using HaeIII, and the MTRR 66A-G (I22M) mutation using NdeI. --- D919G --- --- I22M ---