A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Examining the Impact of Incident Postoperative Delirium on Mortality

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Background:Delirium is an acute and reversible geriatric syndrome that represents a decompensation of cerebral function. Delirium is associated with adverse postoperative outcomes, but controversy exists regarding whether delirium is an independent predictor of mortality. Thus, we assessed the association between incident postoperative delirium and mortality in adult noncardiac surgery patients.Methods:A systematic search was conducted using Cochrane, MEDLINE/PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Embase. Screening and data extraction were conducted by two independent reviewers. Pooled-effect estimates calculated with a random-effects model were expressed as odds ratios with 95% CIs. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool for Non-Randomized Studies.Results:A total of 34 of 4,968 screened citations met inclusion criteria. Risk of bias ranged from moderate to critical. Pooled analysis of unadjusted event rates (5,545 patients) suggested that delirium was associated with a four-fold increase in the odds of death (odds ratio = 4.12 [95% CI, 3.29 to 5.17]; I2 = 24.9%). A formal pooled analysis of adjusted outcomes was not possible due to heterogeneity of effect measures reported. However, in studies that controlled for prespecified confounders, none found a statistically significant association between incident postoperative delirium and mortality (two studies in hip fractures; n = 729) after an average follow-up of 21 months. Overall, as study risk of bias decreased, the association between delirium and mortality decreased.Conclusions:Few high-quality studies are available to estimate the impact of incident postoperative delirium on mortality. Studies that controlled for prespecified confounders did not demonstrate significant independent associations of delirium with mortality.

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