Introduction: As evidence-based effective treatment protocols for delirium after cardiac surgery are lacking, efforts should be made to identify risk factors for preventive interventions. Moreover, knowledge of these risk factors could increase validity of etiological studies in which adjustments need to be made for confounding variables. This review aims to systematically identify risk factors for delirium after cardiac surgery and to grade the evidence supporting these associations.
Method: A prior registered systematic review was performed using EMBASE, CINAHL, MEDLINE and Cochrane from 1990 till January 2015 ( http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/display_record.asp?ID=CRD42014007371 ). All studies evaluating patients for delirium after cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) using either randomization or multivariable data analyses were included. Data was extracted and quality was scored in duplicate. Heterogeneity impaired pooling of the data; instead a semi-quantitative approach was used in which the strength of the evidence was graded based on the number of investigations, the quality of studies, and the consistency of the association reported across studies.
Results: In total 1462 unique references were screened and 34 were included in this review, of which 16 (47 %) were graded as high quality. A strong level of evidence for an association with the occurrence of postoperative delirium was found for age, previous psychiatric conditions, cerebrovascular disease, pre-existent cognitive impairment, type of surgery, peri-operative blood product transfusion, administration of risperidone, postoperative atrial fibrillation and mechanical ventilation time. Postoperative oxygen saturation and renal insufficiency were supported by a moderate level of evidence, and there is no evidence that gender, education, CPB duration, pre-existent cardiac disease or heart failure are risk factors.
Conclusion: Of many potential risk factors for delirium after cardiac surgery, for only 11 there is a strong or moderate level of evidence. These risk factors should be taken in consideration when designing future delirium prevention strategies trials or when controlling for confounding in future etiological studies.