Treatment of delirium in early postoperative cardiosurgical patients. Article

V.E. Rubinchik, I.Yu. Kasherininov, A.E. Bautin

Almazov National Medical Research Centre, St. Petersburg, Russia

For correspondence: Vadim E. Rubinchik — M. D., associate professor, the chief of the ICU#2 of Almazov National Medical Research Centre, St. Petersburg; e-mail:

For citation: Rubinchik VE, Kasherininov IYu, Bautin AE. Treatment of delirium in early postoperative cardiosurgical patients. Article. Annals of Critical Care. 2019;3:77–83.

DOI: 10.21320/1818-474X-2019-3-77-83


Background. Postoperative delirium is highly relevant in elderly patients who undergo cardiosurgical interventions with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), long stay in intensive care unit (ICU), suffering from widespread atherosclerosis and having a wide range of comorbidities.

In the world literature there is a lot of data on the successful use of dexmedetomidine for sedation, prevention and relief of delirium, including patients after open-heart interventions. Comparative evaluation of dexmedetomidine and neuroleptic sedation with “traditional” for Russian Federation management of cardiosurgical patients suffering from postoperative delirium seems to be a relevant clinical and research task.

Objectives. Comparative evaluation of the effectiveness of drug sedation with dexmedetomidine and propofol in cardiosurgical patients with postoperative delirium.

Material and Methods. An open prospective cohort study took place in 2017–2019 and included 42 patients who underwent open-heart intervention with CPB and had delirium in the postoperative period.

Exclusion criteria: severe brachiocephal artery atherosclerosis, acute period or consequences of stroke, signs of acute respiratory failure associated with the pathology of the respiratory system, severe cardiovascular failure, age over 80 years.

Detection and treatment of delirium were performed by an intensivist together with a psychiatrist. Haloperidol was used as the main antipsychotic. Depending on the drug used for medical sedation, the patients were divided into 2 groups: 22 patients underwent medical sedation with propofol, 20 with dexmedetomidine in the form of an extended infusion. According to the results of the study, the length of patients’ stay in the ICU and hospital, the need for vasopressor therapy, mechnical ventilation (MV), and the duration of delirium were analyzed.

Results. In patients of the dexmedetomidine group, compared with the propofol group, the following was observed: less need for vasopressors and the duration of their use, less frequent use of MV (27.2 % versus 10.0 % of cases, p < 0.05), shorter stay in ICU (4.4 ± 1.8 vs 7.2 ± 2.3 days, p < 0.05), and finally, more rapid relief of the delirium itself (34.7 ± 6.8 vs 52.6 ± 8.9 hours, p < 0.05). There was no statistically significant difference between the groups for the length of hospital stay.

Conclusions. In the early postoperative period of open-heart interventions, medical sedation using dexmedetomidine as a component of the delirium therapy seems to be preferable to propofol sedation. Using of dexmedetomidine during study was associated with more rapid relief of the delirium, more favorable hemodynamic profile, less need for MV and duration of MV, as well as shorter duration of stay in the ICU, compared with the use of propofol sedation, which allows us to recommend routine use of dexmedetomidine in the cardiosurgical ICU.

Keywords: cardiosurgery, postoperative period, delirium, sedation, dexmedetomidine.

Received: 26.03.2019

Accepted: 03.09.2019


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