A five-year neurological and EEG follow-up was carried on 55 patients who had undergone open-heart surgery for valve replacement in order to investigate the long-term results of the treatment. The five-year survival rate was 89%. The prevalence of permanent neurological abnormalities after operation was 9%. Transient ischaemic attacks occurred in five patients but no more severe cerebrovascular accidents were encountered. The rate of embolic events was 2.8 per 100 patient-years. Various subjective symptoms and complaints showed a highly beneficial outcome. Also the five-year EEG outcome was encouraging; the prevalence of abnormal EEG had fallen from the value before operation of 45% to 25%. The harmful influence of long perfusion time (extracorporeal circulation) during operation was found to be reflected in the long-term EEG outcome and, significantly, not only in the patients who had, but also in those who had not developed clinical abnormalities complicating the immediate course after operation. Although a valvular surgery patient faces a number of CNS problems before, during and after operation, the overall long-term outcome of successful surgery seems highly beneficial in neurological terms.
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