Postoperative cognitive dysfunction is a crucial public health issue that has been increasingly studied in efforts to reduce symptoms or prevent its occurrence. However, effective advances remain lacking. Hyperbaric oxygen preconditioning has proved to protect vital organs, such as the heart, liver, and brain. Recently, it has been introduced and widely studied in the prevention of postoperative cognitive dysfunction, with promising results. However, the neuroprotective mechanisms underlying this phenomenon remain controversial. This review summarizes and highlights the definition and application of hyperbaric oxygen preconditioning, the perniciousness and pathogenetic mechanism underlying postoperative cognitive dysfunction, and the effects that hyperbaric oxygen preconditioning has on postoperative cognitive dysfunction. Finally, we conclude that hyperbaric oxygen preconditioning is an effective and feasible method to prevent, alleviate, and improve postoperative cognitive dysfunction, and that its mechanism of action is very complex, involving the stimulation of endogenous antioxidant and anti-inflammation defense systems.

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