Aldecoa, C. et al. (2017) European Journal of Anaesthesiology. 34(4) pp. 192-214
Postoperative delirium (POD) is an adverse postoperative complication that can occur in patients of any age, from children to the elderly. Its incidence varies in the various age groups and is substantially influenced by patient-related risk factors that are variably distributed and differentially accumulate in the different age groups. Elderly patients are generally thought to be at higher risk because predisposing risk factors such as cognitive impairment, comorbidity, sensorial deficits, malnutrition, polymedication, impaired functional status and frailty (a condition that can only be observed among aged patients) accumulate and overlap with ageing.
Moreover, POD (refer to the specific definition in the ‘Paediatric patients’ section) is a common complication in children of pre-school age (5 to 7 years): whether this is due to age-related psychological issues or to additional inflammatory effects on the brain cannot currently be determined. There is a limited number of studies on cognitive outcomes in children. For the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently recommended cautious indications for anaesthesia and surgery in children aged less than 3 years. In Europe, the ESA launched an initiative, the EUROpean Safe Tots Anaesthesia Research (Eurostar) Initiative Task Force to promote translational research on anaesthesia neurotoxicity and long-term outcomes after paediatric anaesthesia and surgery.
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