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Crit Care Med. 2012 Jul;40(7):2022-32. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e318250acc0.

The association between brain volumes, delirium duration, and cognitive outcomes in intensive care unit survivors: the VISIONS cohort magnetic resonance imaging study*.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232-8300, USA

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Delirium duration is predictive of long-term cognitive impairment in intensive care unit survivors. Hypothesizing that a neuroanatomical basis may exist for the relationship between delirium and long-term cognitive impairment, we conducted this exploratory investigation of the associations between delirium duration, brain volumes, and long-term cognitive impairment.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PATIENTS:

A prospective cohort of medical and surgical intensive care unit survivors with respiratory failure or shock.

MEASUREMENTS:

Quantitative high resolution 3-Tesla brain magnetic resonance imaging was used to calculate brain volumes at discharge and 3-month follow-up. Delirium was evaluated using the confusion assessment method for the intensive care unit; cognitive outcomes were tested at 3- and 12-month follow-up. Linear regression was used to examine associations between delirium duration and brain volumes, and between brain volumes and cognitive outcomes.

RESULTS:

A total of 47 patients completed the magnetic resonance imaging protocol. Patients with longer duration of delirium displayed greater brain atrophy as measured by a larger ventricle-to-brain ratio at hospital discharge (0.76, 95% confidence intervals [0.10, 1.41]; p = .03) and at 3-month follow-up (0.62 [0.02, 1.21], p = .05). Longer duration of delirium was associated with smaller superior frontal lobe (-2.11 cm(3) [-3.89, -0.32]; p = .03) and hippocampal volumes at discharge (-0.58 cm(3) [-0.85, -0.31], p < .001)--regions responsible for executive functioning and memory, respectively. Greater brain atrophy (higher ventricle-to-brain ratio) at 3 months was associated with worse cognitive performances at 12 months (lower Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status score -11.17 [-21.12, -1.22], p = .04). Smaller superior frontal lobes, thalamus, and cerebellar volumes at 3 months were associated with worse executive functioning and visual attention at 12 months.

CONCLUSIONS:

These preliminary data show that longer duration of delirium is associated with smaller brain volumes up to 3 months after discharge, and that smaller brain volumes are associated with long-term cognitive impairment up to 12 months. We cannot, however, rule out that smaller preexisting brain volumes explain these findings.

Comment in

  • Guilty by association?*. [Crit Care Med. 2012]
PMID:
22710202
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3697780
Free PMC Article

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