Anesthesiologists have worked relentlessly to improve intraoperative anesthesia care. They are now well positioned to expand their horizons and address many of the longer-term adverse consequences of anesthesia and surgery. Perioperative neurocognitive disorders, chronic postoperative pain, and opioid misuse are not inevitable adverse outcomes; rather, they are preventable and treatable conditions that deserve attention. The author’s research team has investigated why patients experience new cognitive deficits after anesthesia and surgery. Their animal studies have shown that anesthetic drugs trigger overactivity of “memory-blocking receptors” that persists after the drugs are eliminated, and they have discovered new strategies to preserve brain function by repurposing available drugs and developing novel therapeutics that inhibit these receptors. Clinical trials are in progress to examine the cognitive outcomes of such strategies. This work is just one example of how anesthesiologists are advancing science with the goal of improving the lives of patients.

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