• Risk factors for postoperative delirium in the elderly
  • Lukas Yani, Stella <1976>


  • MED/04 Patologia generale


  • Background: Delirium is defined as an acute disorder of attention and cognition. Delirium is common in hospitalized elderly patient and is associated with increased morbidity, length of stay and patient care costs. Although Delirium can develop at any time during hospitalization, it typically presents early in the post-operative period (Post-Operative Delirium, POD) in the surgery context. The molecular mechanism and possible genetics basis of POD onset are not known, as well as all the risk factors are not completely defined. Our hypothesis is that genetic risk factor involving the inflammatory response could have possible effects on the immunoneuroendocrine system. Moreover, our previous data (inflamm-aging) suggest that aging is associated with an increase of inflammatory status, favouring age-related diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, frailty, depression among other. Some pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory cytokines, seem to play a crucial role in increasing the inflammatory status and in the communication and regulation of immunoneuroendocrine system. Objective: this study evaluated the incidence of POD in elderly patients undergoing general surgery, clinical/physical and psychological risk factors of POD insurgency and investigated inflammatory and genetic risk factors. Moreover, this study evaluated the consequence of POD in terms of institutionalization, development of permanent cognitive dysfunction or dementia and mortality Methods: patients aged over 65 admitted for surgery at the Urgency Unit of S.Orsola-Malpighi Hospital were eligible for this case–control study. Risk factors significantly associated with POD in univariate analysis were entered into multivariate analysis to establish those independently associated with POD. Preoperative plasma level of 9 inflammatory markers were measured in 42 control subjects and 43 subjects who developed POD. Functional polymorphisms of IL-1 α , IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 and TNF-alpha cytokine genes were determined in 176 control subjects and 27 POD subjects. Results: A total of 351 patients were enrolled in the study. The incidence of POD was 13•2 %. Independent variables associated with POD were: age, co-morbidity, preoperative cognitive impairment, glucose abnormalities. Median length of hospital stay was 21 days for patients with POD versus 8 days for control patients (P < 0•001). The hospital mortality rate was 19 and 8•4 % respectively (P = 0•021) and mortality rate after 1 year was also higher in POD (P= 0.0001). The baseline of IL-6 concentration was higher in POD patients than patients without POD, whereas IL-2 was lower in POD patients compared to patients without POD. In a multivariate analysis only IL-6 remained associated with POD. Moreover IL-6, IL-8 and IL-2 are associated with co-morbidity, intra-hospital mortality, compromised functional status and emergency admission. No significant differences in genotype distribution were found between POD subjects and controls for any SNP analyzed in this study. Conclusion: In this study we found older age, comorbidity, cognitive impairment, glucose abnormalities and baseline of IL-6 as independent risk factors for the development of POD. IL-6 could be proposed as marker of a trait that is associated with an increased risk of delirium; i.e. raised premorbid IL-6 level predict for the development of delirium.


  • 2011-05-02


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Lukas Yani, Stella (2011) Risk factors for postoperative delirium in the elderly, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze biomediche: progetto n. 1 "Biotecnologie mediche" , 23 Ciclo.