Long-term outcomes of older adults with and without delirium immediately after recovery from general anesthesia for surgery

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9 Scopus citations


Objective Postoperative delirium, occurring days after surgery, is associated with both short- and long-term adverse events. Postanesthesia care unit (PACU) delirium, immediately after recovery from anesthesia, is associated with continued delirium in the succeeding days and adverse cognitive outcomes at discharge. Longer-term consequences are unclear. The objective was to evaluate 18-month outcomes of patients with versus without delirium in the PACU after surgery with general anesthesia. Methods In a prospective, observational, cohort study, 91 consecutive English-speaking patients, aged at least 70 years and capable of independently providing informed consent before surgery, were followed after admission for a surgical procedure in one teaching hospital. Patients completed cognitive testing before surgery. After recovery from general anesthesia, they were evaluated for a DSM-IV diagnosis of delirium. Participants or proxies were evaluated, at a median of 19 months after surgery (interquartile range: 18-20 months), for survival, cognitive and physical functioning, and healthcare utilization outcomes. Results All 91 patients or proxies (41 with delirium [45%]) were contacted at follow-up, with 7 deaths (8%) and 3 declining further participation (3%); 81 (96% of survivors) completed follow-up evaluations, demonstrating no significant cognitive or functional decline from baseline, with 75% of the cohort living independently in the community, and no differences in any outcomes between patients with versus without PACU delirium. Conclusion In a small cohort of older patients evaluated 18 months after surgery, we could not detect an association of delirium diagnosed in the PACU with patient survival, cognitive/physical functioning, and healthcare utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1074
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2015


  • Delirium
  • cognitive outcomes
  • general anesthesia
  • older adults
  • postoperative recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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