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Subtle attentional deficits in the absence of dementia are associated with an increased risk of post-operative delirium

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Clive Ballard


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Background: Previously, key studies of the risk profile for post-surgical delirium have focused on general medical and non-elective patients, few have examined elective cohorts. Accurate prediction is imperative for clinical trials and prevention strategies. Aims/Hypothesis: Our hypothesis was that subtle pre-operative impairments of attention will be associated with risk of post-operative delirium. Method: A prospective study evaluating pre- and post-operative neuropsychological performance in older (≥70) consecutive elective admissions for orthopaedic surgery, and free of dementia (n = 100) was initiated in a general medical hospital. Results: Pre-operative attentional deficits were closely associated with delirium. Patients who developed post-surgical delirium had significantly slower mean reaction times (p ≤ 0.011) and greater variability of reaction time (p = 0.017). A 4- to 5-fold increased risk of delirium was observed for people one standard deviation above the sample means on these variables. Conclusions: The present study describes a measurement of attentional performance which could form the basis of a neuropsychological marker of delirium. Copyright © 2007 S. Karger AG.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lowery DP, Wesnes K, Ballard CG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders

Year: 2007

Volume: 23

Issue: 6

Pages: 390-394

ISSN (print): 1420-8008

ISSN (electronic): 1421-9824

Publisher: S. Karger AG


DOI: 10.1159/000101453

PubMed id: 17396030


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