ISLAMABAD: Having a regional anaesthetic to relieve pain after hip fracture surgery might lower the rate of delirium after surgery in elderly patients, according to researchers. At least half of elderly patients who have an operation may become delirious afterwards, a problem that is linked to a higher rate of dementia and death in the five years after the surgery. Patients who have experienced delirium after an anaesthetic and surgery are three times more likely than other elderly surgical patients to develop dementia within the next five years. They are also twice as likely to die within the following two years.Delirium is a disturbed mental state that takes two forms: many patients become confused, agitated, distressed and even hallucinatory. This makes them more prone to injuries, such as falls out of bed. Other patients are more difficult to detect because they become quiet and passive, making them reluctant to leave their beds and so more prone to problems such as falls and infections. Regional anaesthesia, which numbs only the part of the body being operated on, is the theme for this year’s National Anaesthesia Day, which falls on Monday October 17. The day is promoted by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and marks the first time ether anaesthetic was demonstrated in Boston, Massachusetts, 170 years ago.A regional anaesthetic involves an injection into the nerve bundles that control a particular area of the body; for example, for hand and arm surgery, the injection is around a nerve bundle in the shoulder. Many mothers having caesarean sections have a regional anaesthetic injected into the spinal area. The benefits of regional anaesthesia include good pain control, faster recovery, fewer side-effects and less stress on the body.