Recent evidence has shown that general anaesthesia can cause long-term neurotoxicity and cognitive dysfunction. Ketamine is commonly used in paediatric anaesthesia and antidepressant therapy. Increasing data indicate that ketamine can induce neuronal degeneration and learning and memory impairment. Whether maternal non-obstetric surgery under ketamine anaesthesia in the middle stage of pregnancy causes cognitive impairment in offspring is unclear. The aim of our study was to evaluate the effect of maternal abdominal surgery under ketamine anaesthesia on cognition in the offspring and the underlying mechanisms of any change.