You are viewing AANS Neurosurgeon Volume 27, Number 1, 2018. View our current issue, Volume 27, Number 2, 2018

AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 1, 2018

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Understanding How Drug Reduces Confusion in Older Patients After Surgery May Lead to Better Care

A drug that reduces delirium in postoperative patients may work by preventing the overactivity of certain receptors in brain cells, according to a new study. The researchers say the findings could lead to more widespread use of the drug, dexmedetomidine, and speed the development of new treatments for postoperative delirium with fewer side effects.

Dexmedetomidine is used after surgery and in the intensive care unit (ICU) to reduce postoperative delirium, an acute condition that results in temporary confusion, disorientation, problems with memory, inability to pay attention and sometimes hallucinations. Elderly patients are particularly susceptible to postoperative delirium—the problem affects up to 85 percent of elderly patients in the ICU. Delirium can also occur in younger patients, particularly those treated in ICUs. Until now, it has not been known how dexmedetomidine, a drug that is normally used to sedate patients, could possibly reduce delirium after surgery.

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