Utility of Head CT Scan for Acute Inpatient Delirium

Hosp Top. Jan-Mar 2015;93(1):9-12. doi: 10.1080/00185868.2015.1012928.


Delirium is a common occurrence in hospitalized patients, especially in the geriatric age group. Data was retrospectively reviewed for patients who developed delirium during hospitalization. Acute intracranial changes on imaging were noted only in four patients (11%) and all had preimaging clinical symptoms and signs, which warranted imaging. Imaging should be considered only in the presence of head injury, fall, history of anticoagulation, focal neurological signs, fever, and raised intracranial pressure. Development of more clear guidelines will result in decreased ordering of unnecessary neuroimaging, substantial cost savings, and less radiation exposure for patients.

Keywords: CT scan; altered mental status; confusion; delirium; neuroimaging.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Delirium / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Medical Audit
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*