The impact of preoperative anxiety on patients undergoing brain surgery: a systematic review

Vittorio Oteri, Anna Martinelli, Elisa Crivellaro, Francesca Gigli

Introduction Preoperative anxiety is a common reaction exhibited by up to 80% of patients who are scheduled for surgical procedures and characterized by psychological and physical changes which may affect their perioperative period. Our aim is to report the most up-to-date evidence on preoperative anxiety in brain surgery patients through a systematic analysis of the studies produced in the last decades. 

Methods We performed a systematic review of literature by searching PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases. Data were extracted using the Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome framework and critically analyzed. PRISMA guidelines were applied, and the risk of bias of the included studies was assessed using the Risk of bias (RoB) 2 and ROBINS tools, as was the methodological quality, following GRADE criteria. 

Results We included 27 articles, accounting for 2558 patients in twelve different countries. The prevalence of preoperative anxiety ranged from 17 up to 89%, higher in female patients. Preoperative anxiety was associated with lower quality of life and cognitive performance, higher need for information, poorer memory and attention, longer hospitalization, depressive symptoms, and increase of physical disability; no correlation with survival rate was found. Seven randomized controlled trials attested the efficacy of acupuncture, music therapy, virtual reality, and pharmacological support in lowering anxiety levels. 

Conclusion Preoperative anxiety is a common phenomenon that could negatively affect the perioperative period of brain surgery patients: this is something that should not be neglected to achieve better care through early prevention and optimal management.


Review Article
Neurosurgical Review