Pharmacopsychiatry 2003; 36(3): 89-93
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-39981
Original Paper
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Effect of Piracetam on Cognitive Performance in Patients Undergoing Bypass Surgery

R. Uebelhack1 , K. Vohs1 , M. Zytowski2 , H.-J. Schewe1 , C. Koch2 , W. Konertz2
  • 1Universitätsklinikum Charité, Medizinische Fakultät der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
    Psychiatrische Klinik,
  • 2Klinik für kardiovaskuläre Chirurgie
Further Information

Publication History

Received: 18.12.2001 Revised: 1.7.2002

Accepted: 3.7.2002

Publication Date:
13 June 2003 (online)

In this study, the protective effect of piracetam on select aspects of cognitive function in patients undergoing bypass surgery was investigated.

Male patients (n = 64) with an indication for a surgical revascularization using artificial extracorporal circuits were randomly assigned in a double-blind fashion to receive a single challenge of 12-g piracetam infusion or placebo (sterile saline) prior to the bypass surgery. A brief battery of neuropsychological tests for verbal and non-verbal short-term memory and attention was administered 1 day before and 3 days after the surgical intervention.

There was a significant difference in short-term memory and attention, with the piracetam-treated patients producing a better level of performance 3 days after surgery compared to the placebo group. The overall postoperative cognitive function (z-transformation of all 6 test results) was more significantly (p < 0.001) reduced in the placebo group than in the piracetam group (z = -1.19 ± 0.72 vs. -0.46 ± 0.58, respectively).

A single challenge of 12-g piracetam infusion prior to surgical intervention might offer a short-term neuroprotective effect for patients undergoing cardiac bypass surgery. Whether this effect persists for a longer period of time requires further investigation.


Prof. Dr. med. Ralf Uebelhack

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Medizinische Fakultät/Charité

Universitätsklinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie

Schumannstr. 20/21

10098 Berlin

Phone: +49/ (0)30 2802 3554

Fax: +49/ (0) 30 2802 3203