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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2011 Jun;45(6):477-82. doi: 10.3109/00048674.2011.543411.

Aripiprazole and haloperidol in the treatment of delirium.

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Department of Consultation Liaison Psychiatry and Medical Psychiatry, Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, New York 10016, USA.



To compare the efficacy and tolerability of aripiprazole and haloperidol in the amelioration of distressing symptoms of delirium and its motoric subtypes.


At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, we prospectively collected sociodemographic and medical data and systematically rated all patients diagnosed with delirium with the Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS), Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) and the abbreviated Udvalg Kliniske Undersogelser Side Effect Rating Scale (UKU) at the initial diagnosis of delirium (T1), after 48-72 h (T2) and 7 days later (T3). All collected information was entered into a delirium database. For our analysis, we subsequently extracted data on aripiprazole (ARI) treated patients to compare to case-matched haloperidol (HAL) treated patients.


We retrieved 21 patients treated with aripiprazole and 21 case-matched patients treated with haloperidol. Initial MDAS scores did not significantly differ between the groups. Over the course of treatment (T1 to T3), MDAS scores improved from 18.1 to 8.3 for ARI and 19.9 to 6.8 for HAL. The delirium resolution rate was 76.2% for ARI and 76.2% for HAL. For patients with hypoactive delirium, the MDAS scores improved from 15.6 to 5.7 for ARI and 18.8 to 8.1 for HAL. Delirium resolution rates for patients with hypoactive delirium were 100% for ARI and 77.8% for HAL. For patients experiencing hyperactive delirium, the MDAS scores improved from 19.9 to 6.8 for ARI and 20.8 to 5.8 for HAL. Delirium resolution rates for patients with hyperactive delirium were 58.3% for ARI and 75% for HAL. There were no significant differences in treatment results between ARI and HAL. Treatment with HAL caused more extrapyramidal side effects.


From our secondary analysis, aripiprazole may be as effective as haloperidol in the management of delirium and its subtypes. Treatment with haloperidol resulted in more side effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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