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Anaesthesia. 2008 Sep;63(9):941-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2008.05523.x. Epub 2008 Jun 10.

Delirium is associated with early postoperative cognitive dysfunction.

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VA Boston Healthcare System, Geriatric Education and Clinical Center; Brigham and Women's Hospital, Division of Aging, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


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 >or= 60 years 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.

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