Effect of perioperative administration of dexmedetomidine on delirium after cardiac surgery in elderly patients: a double-blinded, multi-center, randomized study

Clin Interv Aging. 2019 Mar 15;14:571-575. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S194476. eCollection 2019.


Objective: Postoperative delirium (POD) is a serious complication in elderly patients undergoing cardiac surgery. This study was aimed at investigating the effect of perioperative administration of dexmedetomidine for general anesthesia maintenance on occurrence and duration of POD in elderly patients after cardiac surgery.

Methods: One hundred and sixty-four patients were enrolled after cardiac surgery between June 2009 and December 2016. Patients were assigned by a computer-generated randomization sequence in a 1:1 ratio to receive dexmedetomidine general anesthesia maintenance or propofol general anesthesia maintenance. POD was assessed every day with confusion assessment method for intensive care units (ICU) during the first 5 postoperative days.

Results: There was no significance in incidence of POD between the dexmedetomidine group and the propofol group (P=0.0758). In patients treated with dexmedetomidine, the median onset time of delirium was delayed (second day vs first day) and the duration of delirium reduced (2 days vs 3 days) when compared with propofol-treated patients. The dexmedetomidine-treated patients also displayed a lower VAS score and less opiate analgesic consumption. No difference was observed in respect to other postoperative outcomes.

Conclusion: For elderly patients, perioperative administration of dexmedetomidine reduced incidence, delayed onset and shortened duration of POD after cardiac surgery.

Keywords: anesthesia; cardiac surgery; dexmedetomidine; elderly patients; postoperative delirium.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Retracted Publication

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analgesics
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Anesthesia, General / adverse effects
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Delirium / prevention & control*
  • Dexmedetomidine / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Postoperative Period
  • Propofol / administration & dosage
  • Time Factors


  • Analgesics
  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Dexmedetomidine
  • Propofol