Prevention of Post-operative Delirium in the Elderly Using Pharmacological Agents
Keywords:delirium, post-operative, prevention, pharmacological agents
Post-operative delirium (POD) is a serious surgical complication that can cause significant morbidity and mortality. It is associated with prolonged hospital stay, delayed admission to rehabilitation programs, persistent cognitive deficits, marked health-care costs, and more. The pathophysiology is multifactorial and not completely understood, which complicates the optimal management. Non-pharmacological measures have been the mainstay of treatment, but there has been an ongoing interest in the medical literature on the prevention of post-operative delirium using medications. The purpose of this review is to critically analyze the current evidence on pharmacological prevention of POD.
A literature review was conducted using PubMed and Embase databases, using the following search terms: delirium, antipsychotics, cholinesterase inhibitors, and statins.
A total of 1,152 articles were screened and 25 articles were reviewed. Fourteen articles found a reduced incidence of post-operative delirium using pharmacological agents: eight with antipsychotics, two with statins, one with melatonin, one with dexamethasone, one with gabapentin, and one with diazepam. However, study designs, methodological issues, or authors’ interpretations raise questions on these conclusions.
Further double-blinded randomized clinical trials should be conducted before administering pharmacological agents to reduce POD in a non-research setting.
How to Cite
Authors contributing to the Candian Geriatrics Journal retain copyright of their work, with exclusive publication rights granted to the Canadian Geriatrics Society upon article acceptance. Read the journal's full copyright and open access policy.