Data_Sheet_1_Deconstructing delirium in the post anaesthesia care unit.PDF
The course of neuro-cognitive recovery following anaesthesia and surgery is distinctive and poorly understood. Our objective was to identify patterns of neuro-cognitive recovery of the domains routinely assessed for delirium diagnosis in the post anaesthesia care unit (PACU) and to compare them to the cognitive recovery patterns observed in other studies; thereby aiding in the identification of pathological (high risk) patterns of recovery in the PACU. We also compared which of the currently available tests (3D-CAM, CAM-ICU, and NuDESC) is the best to use in PACU. This was a post hoc secondary analysis of data from the Alpha Max study which involved 200 patients aged over 60 years, scheduled for elective surgery under general anaesthesia lasting more than 2 h. These patients were assessed for delirium at 30 min following arrival in the PACU, if they were adequately arousable (Richmond Agitation Sedation Score ≥ −2). All tests for delirium diagnosis (3D-CAM, CAM-ICU, and NuDESC) and the sub-domains assessed were compared to understand temporal recovery of neurocognitive domains. These data were also analysed to determine the best predictor of PACU delirium. We found the incidence of PACU delirium was 35% (3D-CAM). Individual cognitive domains were affected differently. Few individuals had vigilance deficits (6.5%, n = 10 CAM-ICU) or disorganized thinking (19% CAM-ICU, 27.5% 3D-CAM), in contrast attention deficits were common (72%, n = 144) and most of these patients (89.5%, n = 129) were not sedated (RASS ≥ −2). CAM-ICU (27%) and NuDESC (52.8%) detected fewer cases of PACU delirium compared to 3D-CAM. In conclusion, return of neurocognitive function is a stepwise process; Vigilance and Disorganized Thinking are the earliest cognitive functions to return to baseline and lingering deficits in these domains could indicate an abnormal cognitive recovery. Attention deficits are relatively common at 30 min in the PACU even in individuals who appear to be awake. The 3D CAM is a robust test to check for delirium in the PACU.