Delirium is an acute change in cognition and attention, which may include alterations in consciousness and disorganized thinking. While delirium may affect any age group, it is most common in older patients, especially those with preexisting cognitive impairment. Patients with delirium after surgery recover more slowly than those without delirium and, as a result, have increased length of stay and hospital costs. The measured incidence of postoperative delirium varies with the type of surgery, the urgency of surgery, and the type and sensitivity of the delirium assessment. While generally considered a short-term condition, delirium can persist for months and is associated with poor cognitive and functional outcomes beyond the immediate postoperative period. In this article we will provide a guide to assess delirium risk preoperatively, and to prevent, diagnose, and treat this common and morbid condition. Care improvements such as identifying delirium risk preoperatively; training surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses to screen for delirium; implementing delirium prevention programs; and developing standardized delirium treatment protocols may reduce the risk of delirium and its associated morbidity.
Postoperative complications are directly related to poor surgical outcomes in the elderly. This review outlines evidence based quality initiatives focused on decreasing neurologic, cardiac, and pulmonary complications in the elderly surgical patient. Delirium is the most common neurologic complication in the elderly. Important anesthesia quality initiatives for prevention of delirium in elderly surgical patients include use of structured clinical protocols focused on delirium risk factor modification, avoiding meperidine when managing postoperative pain, and careful selection and titration of drugs when sedation is required. There are few age-specific quality measures aimed at prevention of cardiac and pulmonary complications. However, some recommendations for adults such as avoidance of long acting muscle relaxants and perioperative use of statins and beta blockers in high risk patients can be applied to the geriatric surgical population. In the future, process measures may provide a more global assessment of quality in the elderly surgical population.
geriatric; surgery; delirium; surgical procedures/adverse effects; postoperative complications; quality assurance; aged
Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is a clinical phenomenon characterized by cognitive deficits in patients after anesthesia and surgery, especially in geriatric surgical patients. Although it has been documented that isoflurane exposure impaired cognitive function in several aged animal models, there are few clinical interventions and treatments available to prevent this disorder. Minocycline has been well established to exert neuroprotective effects in various experimental animal models and neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, we hypothesized that pretreatment with minocycline attenuates isoflurane-induced cognitive decline in aged rats. In the present study, twenty-month-old rats were administered minocycline or an equal volume of saline by intraperitoneal injection 12 h before exposure to isoflurane. Then the rats were exposed to 1.3% isoflurane for 4 h. Two weeks later, spatial learning and memory of the rats were examined using the Morris Water Maze. We found that pretreatment with minocycline mitigated isoflurane-induced cognitive deficits and suppressed the isoflurane-induced excessive release of IL-1β and caspase-3 in the hippocampal CA1 region at 4 h after isoflurane exposure, as well as the number of TUNEL-positive nuclei. In addition, minocycline treatment also prevented the changes of synaptic ultrastructure in the hippocampal CA1 region induced by isoflurane. In conclusion, pretreatment with minocycline attenuated isoflurane-induced cognitive impairment in aged rats.
Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is a decline in cognitive function from preoperative levels, which has been frequently described after cardiac surgery. The purpose of this study was to examine the variability in measurement and definitions for POCD.
Electronic medical literature databases (EMBASE, MEDLINE, Psychinfo, and Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature) were searched for the intersection of the search terms: “thoracic surgery” and “cognition, dementia, and neuropsychological test”. Abstracts were reviewed independently by 2 reviewers. English articles with more than 50 participants published since 1995 that performed preoperative and postoperative psychometric testing in patients undergoing cardiac surgery were reviewed in their entirety. Data relevant to the measurement and definition of POCD were abstracted and compared to the recommendations of a 1995 Consensus Statement on measurement of POCD.
Sixty-two studies of POCD in patients undergoing cardiac surgery were identified. Of these studies, the recommended neuropsychological tests were done in less than half of the studies. Cognitive domains measured most frequently were attention (n=56; 93%) and memory (n=57; 95%); motor skills were measured less frequently (n=36; 60%). Four definitions of POCD emerged: percent decline (n=15), standard deviation decline (n=14), factor analysis (n=13), and analysis of performance on individual tests (n=12). Because of variability in its measurement, the prevalence of POCD varied by over 10-fold across studies.
There is marked variability in the measurement and definition of POCD. This heterogeneity may impede progress by reducing the ability to compare studies about the causes and treatment of POCD.
Delirium is a serious and common postoperative complication, especially in frail elderly patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a geriatric liaison intervention in comparison with standard care on the incidence of postoperative delirium in frail elderly cancer patients treated with an elective surgical procedure for a solid tumour.
Patients over 65 years of age who were undergoing elective surgery for a solid tumour were recruited to a multicentre, prospective, randomized, controlled trial. The patients were randomized to standard treatment versus a geriatric liaison intervention. The intervention consisted of a preoperative geriatric consultation, an individual treatment plan targeted at risk factors for delirium, daily visits by a geriatric nurse during the hospital stay and advice on managing any problems encountered. The primary outcome was the incidence of postoperative delirium. The secondary outcome measures were the severity of delirium, length of hospital stay, complications, mortality, care dependency, quality of life, return to an independent preoperative living situation and additional care at home.
In total, the data of 260 patients were analysed. Delirium occurred in 31 patients (11.9%), and there was no significant difference between the incidence of delirium in the intervention group and the usual-care group (9.4% vs. 14.3%, OR: 0.63, 95% CI: 0.29–1.35).
Within this study, a geriatric liaison intervention based on frailty for the prevention of postoperative delirium in frail elderly cancer patients undergoing elective surgery for a solid tumour has not proven to be effective.
Nederlands Trial Register Trial ID NTR 823
Postoperative delirium can result in increased postoperative morbidity and mortality, major demand for postoperative care and higher hospital costs. Hypnotics serve to induce and maintain anaesthesia and to abolish patients' consciousness. Their persisting clinical action can delay postoperative cognitive recovery and favour postoperative delirium. Some evidence suggests that these unwanted effects vary according to each hypnotic's specific pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic characteristics and its interaction with the individual patient.
We designed this study to evaluate postoperative delirium rate after general anaesthesia with various hypnotics in patients undergoing surgical procedures other than cardiac or brain surgery. We also aimed to test whether delayed postoperative cognitive recovery increases the risk of postoperative delirium.
After local ethics committee approval, enrolled patients will be randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups. In all patients anaesthesia will be induced with propofol and fentanyl, and maintained with the anaesthetics desflurane, or sevoflurane, or propofol and the analgesic opioid fentanyl.
The onset of postoperative delirium will be monitored with the Nursing Delirium Scale every three hours up to 72 hours post anaesthesia. Cognitive function will be evaluated with two cognitive test batteries (the Short Memory Orientation Memory Concentration Test and the Rancho Los Amigos Scale) preoperatively, at baseline, and postoperatively at 20, 40 and 60 min after extubation.
Statistical analysis will investigate differences in the hypnotics used to maintain anaesthesia and the odds ratios for postoperative delirium, the relation of early postoperative cognitive recovery and postoperative delirium rate. A subgroup analysis will be used to categorize patients according to demographic variables relevant to the risk of postoperative delirium (age, sex, body weight) and to the preoperative score index for delirium.
The results of this comparative anaesthesiological trial should whether each the three hypnotics tested is related to a significantly different postoperative delirium rate. This information could ultimately allow us to select the most appropriate hypnotic to maintain anaesthesia for specific subgroups of patients and especially for those at high risk of postoperative delirium.
Registered at Trial.gov Number
Delirium (acute confusion) complicates 15% to 50% of major operations in older adults and is associated with other major postoperative complications, prolonged length of stay, poor functional recovery, institutionalization, dementia, and death. Importantly, delirium may be predictable and preventable through proactive intervention. Yet clinicians fail to recognize and address postoperative delirium in up to 80% of cases. Using the case of Ms R, a 76-year-old woman who developed delirium first after colectomy with complications and again after routine surgery, the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of delirium in the postoperative setting is reviewed. The risk of postoperative delirium can be quantified by the sum of predisposing and precipitating factors. Successful strategies for prevention and treatment of delirium include proactive multifactorial intervention targeted to reversible risk factors, limiting use of sedating medications (especially benzodiazepines), effective management of postoperative pain, and, perhaps, judicious use of antipsychotics.
Among older noncardiac surgical patients, we investigated whether preoperative frailty provides information about the development of postoperative delirium that is in addition to traditional geriatric risk factors. One-third of patients had a frailty score ≥ 3, which is considered ‘frail’ in others’ research. Twenty-five percent of patients developed postoperative delirium, which was measured using the Confusion Assessment Method. Multivariable logistic regression showed that age, activities of daily living dependence, independent activities of daily living dependence and cognitive functioning did not contribute significantly to the prediction of postoperative delirium. Only preoperative symptoms of depression (OR=1.42; 95% CI=1.06–1.91; p=0.018) and the frailty score (OR=1.84; 95% CI=1.07–3.1; p=0.028) were independently associated with the development of postoperative delirium.
Delirium is an unfortunately common complication seen during the postoperative course. Because of its significant association with physical and cognitive morbidity, clinicians should be aware of evidence-based practices relating to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of postoperative delirium. Here, we review selected recent literature pertaining to the epidemiology and impact of the condition, perioperative risk factors for its development and/or exacerbation, and strategies for management of delirium, with additional attention to the intensive care unit population.
Delirium; Postoperative complications; Intensive care units; Aging; Dementia
Postoperative delirium is a major cause of morbidity and mortality after cardiovascular surgery. Risk factors for postoperative delirium include poor cerebral haemodynamics and perioperative cerebral desaturations. Our aim was to reduce the postoperative delirium rate by using a new prevention strategy called the Haga Brain Care Strategy. This study evaluates the efficacy of the implementation of the Haga Brain Care Strategy to reduce the postoperative delirium rate after elective coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedures. The primary endpoint was the postoperative delirium rate, and the secondary endpoint was the length of stay in the intensive care unit.
The Haga Brain Care Strategy consisted of the conventional screening protocol for delirium with the addition of preoperative transcranial Doppler examinations, perioperative cerebral oximetry, modified Rankin score, delirium risk score and (if indicated) duplex examination of the carotid arteries. In case of poor preoperative haemodynamics, the cerebral blood flow was optionally optimized by angioplasty or the patient was operated on under mild hypothermic conditions. Perioperative cerebral desaturations >20% outside the normal range resulted in intervention to restore cerebral oxygenation. Cerebral oximetry was discontinued when patients regained consciousness. Patients undergoing elective CABG procedures in 2010 were compared with patients scheduled for coronary bypass graft procedures in 2009 who had not been exposed to additional Haga Brain Care Strategy assessment.
A total of 233 and 409 patients were included in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The number of patients subjected in 2010 to transcranial Doppler examinations, cerebral oximetry or both (Haga Brain Care Strategy) were 262 (64.1%), 201 (49.1%) and 139 (34.0%), respectively. The overall rate of postoperative delirium decreased from 31 (13.3%) in 2009 to 30 (7.3%) in 2010 (P = 0.019). A binary logistic regression model showed that the Haga Brain Care Strategy was an independent predictor of a reduced risk of developing a postoperative delirium (odd ratio = 0.37, P = 0.021).
With the implementation of the Haga Brain Care Strategy in 2010, a reduction of the incidence of postoperative delirium in patients undergoing elective CABG procedures was observed. In addition, the length of stay in the intensive care unit showed an overall tendency to decline. The limited number of observations and the current study design do not allow a full evaluation of the Haga Brain Care Strategy but the data support the idea that a sophisticated preoperative assessment of cerebral haemodynamics and perioperative monitoring of cerebral oximetry reduce the incidence of the postoperative delirium in CABG surgery.
Postoperative delirium; Cerebral oximetry; Transcranial Doppler; Coronary artery bypass grafting
Delirium is one of the most common causes of acute end-organ dysfunction across hospital settings, occurring in as high as 80% of critically ill patients that require intensive care unit (ICU) care. The implications of this acute form of brain injury are profound. Across many hospital settings (emergency department, general medical ward, postoperative and ICU), a patient who experiences delirium is more likely to experience increased short- and long-term mortality, decreases in long-term cognitive function, increases in hospital length of stay and increased complications of hospital care. With the development of reliable setting-specific delirium-screening instruments, researchers have been able to highlight the predisposing and potentially modifiable risk factors that place patients at highest risk. Among the large number of risk factors discovered, administration of potent sedative medications, most notably benzodiazepines, is most consistently and strongly associated with an increased burden of delirium. Alternatively, in both the hospital and ICU, delirium can be prevented with the application of protocols that include early mobility/exercise. Future studies must work to understand the epidemiology across settings and focus upon modifiable risk factors that can be integrated into existing delirium prevention and treatment protocols.
delirium; epidemiology; prevalence; incidence; risk factors
Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is a significant cause of morbidity after noncardiac surgery. Identified risk factors are largely limited to demographic characteristics. We hypothesized that POCD was associated with Apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) genotype and plasma biomarkers of brain injury and inflammation.
394 patients over age 55 undergoing major elective noncardiac surgery were enrolled in this prospective observational study. Apolipoprotein E genotyping was performed at baseline. Plasma was collected at baseline, end of surgery, 4.5, 24, and 48-h postoperatively. Six protein biomarkers were assayed (B-type natriuretic peptide, C-reactive protein, D-dimer, matrix metalloproteinase-9, neuron specific enolase, S-100B). Neurocognitive testing was conducted at baseline, 6 weeks, and 1 yr after surgery; scores were subjected to factor analysis. The association of APOE4 and biomarkers with POCD was tested using multivariable regression modeling.
350 patients (89%) completed 6-week neurocognitive testing. POCD occurred in 54.3% of participants at 6 weeks and 46.1% at 1 yr. There was no difference in POCD between patients with or without the APOE4 allele (56.6 vs. 52.6%; p = 0.58). The continuous cognitive change score (mean ± SD) was similar between groups (APOE4: 0.05 ± 0.27 vs. non-APOE4: 0.07 ± 0.28; p = 0.53). 291 subjects (74%) completed testing at 1 yr. POCD occurred in 45.9% of APOE4 subjects versus 46.3% of non-APOE4 subjects (p = 0.95). The cognitive score was again similar (APOE4: 0.08 ± 0.27 vs. non-APOE4: 0.05 ± 0.25; p = 0.39). Biomarker levels were not associated with APOE4 genotype or cognition at 6 weeks or 1 yr.
Cognitive decline after major noncardiac surgery is not associated with APOE4 genotype or plasma biomarker levels.
Delirium in elderly patients after hip fracture surgery is believed to be a transient event, although it frequently lasts for more than 4 weeks.
We determined the incidence, risk factors, morbidity, and mortality of prolonged delirium in elderly patients after hip fracture surgery.
Patients and Methods
We evaluated 232 elderly patients (older than 65 years) (232 hips) who underwent hip fracture surgery for the development and duration of delirium and categorized them into three groups; nondelirium group, transient (≤ 4 weeks) delirium group, and prolonged (> 4 weeks) delirium group. Patients underwent a global geriatric evaluation, which included postoperative complications, mortality, and functional and mental status evaluations. The three groups were compared with respect to these variables.
Seventy patients (30.2%) had delirium develop, and among these, 14 (20%) had prolonged delirium with a total incidence of 6%. Multivariate analysis showed preinjury dementia was a risk factor of prolonged delirium. At the final followup, five (62.5%) of the eight patients who were ambulatory outdoors in the prolonged delirium group became housebound, whereas only 18 (16.4%) of the 110 patients who were ambulatory outdoors in the nondelirium group became housebound. Survival at 40 months was 81.0% (95% confidence interval, 72.6%–89.3%) in the nondelirium group and 63.6% (95% confidence interval, 35.2%–92.1%) in the prolonged delirium group.
Prolonged delirium was found to be associated with a poor functional outcome and increased mortality.
Level of Evidence
Level II, prognostic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
Postoperative delirium has been associated with greater complications, medical cost, and increased mortality during hospitalization. Recent evidence suggests that preoperative executive dysfunction and depression may predict postoperative delirium; however, the combined effect of these risk factors remains unknown. We therefore examined the association between preoperative executive function, depressive symptoms, and established clinical predictors of postoperative delirium among 998 consecutive patients undergoing major non-cardiac surgery.
Nine hundred ninety eight patients were screened for postoperative delirium (n = 998) using the Confusion Assessment Method as well as through retrospective chart review. Patients underwent cognitive, psychosocial, and medical assessments preoperatively. Executive function was assessed using the Concept Shifting Task, Letter-Digit Coding, and a modified Stroop Color Word Interference Test. Depression was assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory.
Preoperative executive dysfunction (P = .007) and greater levels of depressive symptoms (P = .049) were associated with a greater incidence of postoperative delirium, independent of other risk factors. Secondary analyses of cognitive performance demonstrated that the Stroop Color Word Interference Test, the executive task with the greatest complexity in this battery, was more strongly associated with postoperative delirium than simpler tests of executive function. Furthermore, patients exhibiting both executive dysfunction and clinically significant levels of depression were at greatest risk for developing delirium postoperatively.
Preoperative executive dysfunction and depressive symptoms were predictive of postoperative delirium among non-cardiac surgical patients. Executive tasks with greater complexity are more strongly associated with postoperative delirium relative to tests of basic sequencing.
Delirium is a common outcome after cardiac surgery. Delirium prediction rules identify patients at risk for delirium who may benefit from targeted prevention strategies, early identification and treatment of underlying causes. The purpose of this prospective study was to develop a prediction rule for delirium in a cardiac surgery cohort and validate it in an independent cohort.
Methods and Results
Prospectively, cardiac surgery patients ≥60 years were enrolled in a derivation sample (n=122) and then a validation sample (n=109). Beginning on the second postoperative day, patients underwent a standardized daily delirium assessment and delirium was diagnosed according to the Confusion Assessment Method. Delirium occurred in 63 (52%) of the derivation cohort patients. Multivariable analysis identified four variables independently associated with delirium: prior stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) score, abnormal serum albumin, and the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Points were assigned to each variable: MMSE ≤23 received 2 points; MMSE 24-27, GDS >4, prior stroke/TIA, and abnormal albumin received 1 point each. In the derivation sample, the cumulative incidence of delirium for point levels of 0, 1, 2, and ≥3 was 19%, 47%, 63%, and 86%, respectively (C-statistic 0.74). The corresponding incidence of delirium in the validation sample was 18%, 43%, 60%, and 87%, respectively (C-statistic 0.75).
Delirium occurs frequently after cardiac surgery. Using four preoperative characteristics, clinicians can determine cardiac surgery patients' risk for delirium. Patients at higher delirium risk could be candidates for close postoperative monitoring and interventions to prevent delirium.
Delirium; Cardiac surgery; aged; cognition; prediction rule; depression
The purpose of this analysis was to determine if postoperative delirium was associated with early postoperative cognitive dysfunction (at 7 days) and long-term postoperative cognitive dysfunction (at 3 months). The International Study of Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction recruited 1218 subjects ≥60 yr old undergoing elective, non-cardiac surgery. Postoperatively, subjects were evaluated for delirium using the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Subjects underwent neuropsychological testing pre-operatively and postoperatively at 7 days (n = 1018) and 3 months (n = 946). Postoperative cognitive dysfunction was defined as a composite Z-score >2 across tests or at least two individual test Z-scores >2. Subjects with delirium were significantly less likely to participate in postoperative testing. Delirium was associated with an increased incidence of early postoperative cognitive dysfunction (adjusted risk ratio 1.6, 95% CI 1.1–2.1), but not long-term postoperative cognitive dysfunction (adjusted risk ratio 1.3, 95% CI 0.6– 2.4). Delirium was associated with early postoperative cognitive dysfunction, but the relationship of delirium to long-term postoperative cognitive dysfunction remains unclear.
Geriatricians have embraced the term “geriatric syndrome”, using it extensively to highlight the unique features of common health conditions in the elderly. Geriatric syndromes, such as delirium, falls, incontinence and frailty, are highly prevalent, multifactorial, and associated with substantial morbidity and poor outcomes. Nevertheless, this central geriatric concept has remained poorly defined. This article reviews criteria for defining geriatric syndromes, and proposes a balanced approach of developing preliminary criteria based on peer-reviewed evidence. Based on a review of the literature, four shared risk factors—older age, baseline cognitive impairment, baseline functional impairment, and impaired mobility—were identified across five common geriatric syndromes (pressure ulcers, incontinence, falls, functional decline, and delirium). Understanding basic mechanisms involved in geriatric syndromes will be critical to advancing research and developing targeted therapeutic options. However, given the complexity of these multifactorial conditions, attempts to define relevant mechanisms will need to incorporate more complex models, including a focus on synergistic interactions between different risk factors. Finally, major barriers have been identified in translating research advances, such as preventive strategies of proven effectiveness for delirium and falls, into clinical practice and policy initiatives. National strategic initiatives are required to overcome barriers and to achieve clinical, research, and policy advances that will improve quality of life for older persons.
Geriatric syndromes; multifactorial; gerontology; policy
Delirium features can vary greatly depending on the postoperative population studied; however, most studies focus only on high-risk patients. Describing the impact of delirium and risk factors in mixed populations can help in the development of preventive actions.
The occurrence of delirium was evaluated prospectively in 465 consecutive nonventilated postoperative patients admitted to a surgical intensive care unit (SICU) using the confusion assessment method (CAM). Patients with and without delirium were compared. A multiple logistic regression was performed to identify the main risk factors for delirium in the first 24 h of admission to the SICU and the main predictors of outcomes.
Delirium was diagnosed in 43 (9.2%) individuals and was more frequent on the second and third days of admission. The presence of delirium resulted in longer lengths of SICU and hospital stays [6 days (3–13) vs. 2 days (1–3), p < 0.001 and 26 days (12–39) vs. 6 days (3–13), p <0.001, respectively], as well as higher hospital and SICU mortality rates [16.3% vs. 4.0%, p = 0.004 and 6.5% vs. 1.7%, p = 0.042, respectively]. The risk factors for delirium were age (odds ratio (OR), 1.04 [1.02-1.07]), Acute Physiologic Score (APS; OR, 1.11 [1.04-1.2]), emergency surgery (OR, 8.05 [3.58-18.06]), the use of benzodiazepines (OR, 2.28 [1.04-5.00]), and trauma (OR, 6.16 [4.1-6.5]).
Delirium negatively impacts postoperative nonventilated patients. Risk factors can be used to detect high-risk patients in a mixed population of SICU patients.
Delirium; Postoperative; Surgery; Confusion assessment method
This study was conducted to examine perioperative cerebral oximetry changes in elderly patients undergoing hip fracture repair and evaluate the correlation between regional oxygen saturation (rSO2) values, postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) and hospital stay.
Materials and Methods:
This prospective observational study included 69 patients. Data recorded included demographic information, rSO2 values from baseline until the second postoperative hour and Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores preoperatively and on postoperative day 7. MMSE score ≤23 was considered evidence of cognitive dysfunction. Postoperative confusion or agitation, medications administered for postoperative agitation, and hospital length of stay were also recorded. Data were analyzed with Student’s t-test, Pearson’s correlation or multiple regression analysis as appropriate.
Patient age was 74±13 years. Baseline left sided rSO2 values were 60±10 and increased significantly after intubation. Baseline rSO2 L<50 and <45 was observed in 11.6% and 10.1% of patients respectively. Perioperative cerebral desaturation occurred in 40% of patients. MMSE score was 26.23 ± 2.77 before surgery and 25.94 ± 2.52 on postoperative day 7 (p=0.326). MMSE scores ≤ 23 were observed preoperatively in 6 and postoperatively in 9 patients. Patients with cognitive dysfunction had lower preoperative hematocrit, hemoglobin, SpO2 and rSO2 values at all times, compared to patients who did not. There was no correlation between rSO2 or POCD and hospital stay. Patients with baseline rSO2 <5 required more medications for postoperative agitation.
Cognitive dysfunction occurs preoperatively and postoperatively in elderly patients with hip fractures, and is associated with low cerebral rSO2 values.
Anemia; anesthesia; cerebral oximetry; cognitive dysfunction; elderly; hip fracture; monitoring.
We face a profound and emerging public health problem in the form of acute and chronic brain dysfunction. This affects both young and elderly intensive care unit (ICU) survivors and is altering the landscape of society. Two-thirds of ICU patients develop delirium, and this is associated with longer stays, increased costs and excess mortality. In addition, over one-half of ICU survivors suffer a dementia-like illness that impacts their physical and cognitive functional abilities and which appears to be related to the duration of their ICU delirium. A new paradigm of how Intensivists handle the brain is required. We propose a 3-step approach to address this emerging epidemic, which includes Screening, Prevention, and Restoration of brain function (SPR).
Screening combines risk factor identification and delirium assessment using validated instruments. Prevention of acute and chronic brain dysfunction requires implementation of a core model of care that combines evidence-based practices: awakening and breathing coordination with target -based sedation, delirium monitoring, and exercise / early mobility (ABCDE). Restoration introduces strategies of ongoing screening and treatment for ICU survivors at high risk of ongoing brain dysfunction. This practical system applying many evidence-based concepts, incorporates personalized medicine, systems based practice, and continuing research and development towards improving acute and chronic cognitive outcomes.
Delirium; Intensive Care Unit; Risk Factors; Primary Prevention; Secondary Prevention; Tertiary Prevention; Quality Improvement; ICU-acquired Weakness; Sedation; Diagnosis; Treatment
Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) commonly occurs after cardiac surgery. We tested the hypothesis that a history of alcohol dependence is associated with an increased incidence and severity of POCD in male patients undergoing cardiac surgery using cardiopulmonary bypass. Recent verbal and nonverbal memory and executive functions were assessed before and one week after surgery in patients with or without a history of alcohol dependence. Cognitive function was significantly reduced after cardiac surgery in patients with versus without a history of alcohol dependence. The results suggest that a history of alcohol dependence increases the incidence and severity of POCD after cardiac surgery.
alcohol dependence; cardiac surgery; cardiopulmonary bypass; neurocognitive function
Delirium is a common and serious condition, which affects many of our older hospitalised patients. It is an indicator of severe underlying illness and requires early diagnosis and prompt treatment, associated with poor survival, functional outcomes with increased risk of institutionalisation following the delirium episode in the acute care setting. We describe a new model of delirium care in the acute care setting, titled Geriatric Monitoring Unit (GMU) where the important concepts of delirium prevention and management are integrated. We hypothesize that patients with delirium admitted to the GMU would have better clinical outcomes with less need for physical and psychotropic restraints compared to usual care.
GMU models after the Delirium Room with adoption of core interventions from Hospital Elder Life Program and use of evening bright light therapy to consolidate circadian rhythm and improve sleep in the elderly patients. The novelty of this approach lies in the amalgamation of these interventions in a multi-faceted approach in acute delirium management. GMU development thus consists of key considerations for room design and resource planning, program specific interventions and daily core interventions. Assessments undertaken include baseline demographics, comorbidity scoring, duration and severity of delirium, cognitive, functional measures at baseline, 6 months and 12 months later. Additionally we also analysed the pre and post-GMU implementation knowledge and attitude on delirium care among staff members in the geriatric wards (nurses, doctors) and undertook satisfaction surveys for caregivers of patients treated in GMU.
This study protocol describes the conceptualization and implementation of a specialized unit for delirium management. We hypothesize that such a model of care will not only result in better clinical outcomes for the elderly patient with delirium compared to usual geriatric care, but also improved staff knowledge and satisfaction. The model may then be transposed across various locations and disciplines in the acute hospital where delirious patients could be sited.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN52323811
It has been assumed that anaesthetics have minimal or no persistent effects after emergence from anaesthesia. However, general anaesthetics act on multiple ion channels, receptors, and cell signalling systems in the central nervous system to produce anaesthesia, so it should come as no surprise that they also have non-anaesthetic actions that range from beneficial to detrimental. Accumulating evidence is forcing the anaesthesia community to question the safety of general anaesthesia at the extremes of age. Preclinical data suggest that inhaled anaesthetics can have profound and long-lasting effects during key neurodevelopmental periods in neonatal animals by increasing neuronal cell death (apoptosis) and reducing neurogenesis. Clinical data remain conflicting on the significance of these laboratory data to the paediatric population. At the opposite extreme in age, elderly patients are recognized to be at an increased risk of postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) with a well-recognized decline in cognitive function after surgery. The underlying mechanisms and the contribution of anaesthesia in particular to POCD remain unclear. Laboratory models suggest anaesthetic interactions with neurodegenerative mechanisms, such as those linked to the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease, but their clinical relevance remains inconclusive. Prospective randomized clinical trials are underway to address the clinical significance of these findings, but there are major challenges in designing, executing, and interpreting such trials. It is unlikely that definitive clinical studies absolving general anaesthetics of neurotoxicity will become available in the near future, requiring clinicians to use careful judgement when using these profound neurodepressants in vulnerable patients.
anaesthesia, general; Alzheimer's disease; neurobehavioural manifestations; postoperative complications
Delirium is a prevalent organ dysfunction in critically ill patients associated with significant morbidity and mortality, requiring advancements in the clinical and research realms to improve patient outcomes. Increased clinical recognition and utilization of delirium assessment tools, along with clarification of specific risk factors and presentations in varying patient populations, will be necessary in the future. To improve predictive models for outcomes, the continued development and implementation of delirium assessment tools and severity scoring systems will be required. The interplay between the pathophysiological pathways implicated in delirium and resulting clinical presentations and outcomes will need to guide the development of appropriate prevention and treatment protocols. Multicenter randomized controlled trials of interventional therapies will then need to be performed to test their ability to improve clinical outcomes. Physical and cognitive rehabilitation measures need to be further examined as additional means of improving outcomes from delirium in the hospital setting.
delirium; risk factors; pathophysiology; drug therapy; rehabilitation
Delirium is a neuropsychiatric syndrome characterized by altered consciousness and attention with cognitive, emotional and behavioural symptoms. It is particularly frequent in elderly people with medical or surgical conditions and is associated with adverse outcomes. Predisposing factors render the subject more vulnerable to a congregation of precipitating factors which potentially affect brain function and induce an imbalance in all the major neurotransmitter systems. Early diagnosis of delirium is crucial to improve the prognosis of patients requiring the identification of subtle and fluctuating signs. Increased awareness of clinical staff, particularly nurses, and routine screening of cognitive function with standardized instruments, can be decisive to increase detection rates of delirium. General measures to prevent delirium include the implementation of protocols to systematically identify and minimize all risk factors present in a particular clinical setting. As soon as delirium is recognized, prompt removal of precipitating factors is warranted together with environmental changes and early mobilization of patients. Low doses of haloperidol or olanzapine can be used for brief periods, for the behavioural control of delirium. All of these measures are a part of the multicomponent strategy for prevention and treatment of delirium, in which the nursing care plays a vital role.