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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009 Nov;24(11):1304-10. doi: 10.1002/gps.2262.

Assessment of the risk of postoperative delirium in elderly patients using E-PASS and the NEECHAM Confusion Scale.

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Department of Psychiatry, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, 36-3 Gengo, Morioka-machi, Obu City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.



The incidences of surgery-field disorders such as femur neck fracture and colorectal cancer in elderly persons have increased with the rapid aging of society. In such patients, postoperative delirium is also frequent. Patients should be generally assessed from the aspect of both physical and mental conditions in order to predict a high-delirium risk group. If so, delirium may be prevented more efficiently. In this study, we investigated whether the early detection of postoperative delirium in elderly patients is possible using a simple, useful behavior-assessing scale, the NEECHAM Confusion Scale, and a method for comprehensively evaluating elderly persons' stress related to surgery, E-PASS.


The subjects were 160 patients aged more than 75 years who underwent surgery. Among them, three patients had vascular surgery-field disorders, 67 had orthopedic-field disorders, and 90 had digestive surgery-field disorders. To comprehensively evaluate surgery-related stress, E-PASS was employed. In addition, we assessed recognition, activities of daily living (ADL), and the quality of life (QOL). For delirium diagnosis and severity assessment, we used the NEECHAM Confusion Scale. The cut-off value of the NEECHAM score was established as 20 points, and patients showing values less than this after surgery were regarded as having postoperative delirium. Evaluation was performed until 10 days after surgery.


Postoperative delirium was noted in 54.7% of the subjects. There was a decrease in the NEECHAM score between the first and fourth postoperative days, but it gradually increased thereafter. Both uni- and multivariate analyses showed that postoperative delirium was associated with an advanced age (more than 80 years), low preoperative NEECHAM and MMSE scores, the preoperative QOL, and E-PASS. In groups showing an MMSE score of less than 25 or a preoperative NEECHAM score of less than 27, the incidence of postoperative delirium was 76%.


The results suggest that E-PASS and the NEECHAM score facilitate assessment of the risk of postoperative delirium in elderly patients, contributing to early prevention/treatment.

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