Postoperative delirium in critically ill surgical patients: incidence, risk factors, and predictive scores

BMC Anesthesiol. 2019 Mar 20;19(1):39. doi: 10.1186/s12871-019-0694-x.


Background: A common postoperative complication found among patients who are critically ill is delirium, which has a high mortality rate. A predictive model is needed to identify high-risk patients in order to apply strategies which will prevent and/or reduce adverse outcomes.

Objectives: To identify the incidence of, and the risk factors for, postoperative delirium (POD) in surgical intensive care unit (SICU) patients, and to determine predictive scores for the development of POD.

Methods: This study enrolled adults aged over 18 years who had undergone an operation within the preceding week and who had been admitted to a SICU for a period that was expected to be longer than 24 h. The CAM - ICU score was used to determine the occurrence of delirium.

Results: Of the 250 patients enrolled, delirium was found in 61 (24.4%). The independent risk factors for delirium that were identified by a multivariate analysis comprised age, diabetes mellitus, severity of disease (SOFA score), perioperative use of benzodiazepine, and mechanical ventilation. A predictive score (age + (5 × SOFA) + (15 × Benzodiazepine use) + (20 × DM) + (20 × mechanical ventilation) + (20 × modified IQCODE > 3.42)) was created. The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC) was 0.84 (95% CI: 0.786 to 0.897). The cut point of 125 demonstrated a sensitivity of 72.13% and a specificity of 80.95%, and the hospital mortality rate was significantly greater among the delirious than the non-delirious patients (25% vs. 6%, p < 0.01).

Conclusions: POD was experienced postoperatively by a quarter of the surgical patients who were critically ill. A risk score utilizing 6 variables was able to predict which patients would develop POD. The identification of high-risk patients following SICU admission can provide a basis for intervention strategies to improve outcomes.

Trial registration: Thai Clinical Trials Registry TCTR20181204006 . Date registered on December 4, 2018. Retrospectively registered.

Keywords: Intensive care unit (ICU); Postoperative delirium; Risk factors; Surgery.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Illness*
  • Delirium / epidemiology*
  • Delirium / etiology
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors

Associated data

  • TCTR/TCTR20181204006