Delirium in the acute phase after stroke: comparison between methods of detection

Neurol Sci. 2017 Jun;38(6):1101-1104. doi: 10.1007/s10072-017-2832-x. Epub 2017 Feb 1.


Delirium is an acute neuropsychiatric syndrome, very common in hospitalized people with medical and neurological conditions. The identification of delirium after stroke is not an easy task and validated psychometric instruments are needed to correctly identify it. We decided to verify if (1) formal training in DSM-V criteria is needed to correctly identify post-stroke delirium, (2) if the use of a brief psychometric instrument such as 4AT improves its identification, (3) the applicability of these scales in the stroke setting. In the first phase of this study we retrospectively studied 102 acute stroke patients in Stroke Units of San Martino Hospital (Genova, Italy) to evaluate delirium with clinical criteria, first by a neurologist without a formal training in DSM-V criteria and after training. Then, we enrolled 100 new acute stroke patients who underwent screening for delirium using 4AT scale and DSM-V criteria. In the first phase, DSM-V criteria training significantly increased the ability to capture delirium (5 vs. 15%). In the second phase, the 4AT was used for delirium screening revealing a 52% of cases of delirium, the same observed by the consensus diagnosis of two senior neurologists (that was 50%). In the second phase, the use of 4AT scale allowed to capture post-stroke delirium as well as the consensus diagnosis by two neurologists. The identification of post-stroke delirium is not an easy task and requires both formal training in DSM-V criteria as well as the application of brief scales, such as the 4AT.

Keywords: Delirium; Dementia; Diagnosis; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Delirium / diagnosis*
  • Delirium / epidemiology
  • Delirium / etiology*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Young Adult