Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2020 Jun;21(8):905-916. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2020.1738388. Epub 2020 Mar 11.
INTRODUCTION: Postoperative delirium is a common sequela in older adults in the peri-operative period leading to poor outcomes with a complex pathophysiology which has led to a variety of different pharmacologic agents employed in attempts to prevent and treat this syndrome. No pharmacologic agent has been approved to treat this disorder, but this review discusses the pharmacologic strategies which have been tried based on the hypotheses of the causation of the syndrome including neurotransmitter imbalance, inflammation, and oxidative stress.
AREAS COVERED: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) were included via search of electronic databases specifically for the terms postoperative delirium and pharmacologic treatments. With this approach, the recurrent topics of analgesia and sedation, antipsychotics, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AchE-Is), inflammation, and melatonin were emphasized and provided the outline for this review.
EXPERT OPINION: Research evidence does not support any particular agent in any of the pharmacologic classes reviewed. However, there is some potential benefit with dexmedetomidine, melatonin, and the monitoring of anesthetic agents all of which need further clinical trials to validate these conclusions. Exploration of ways to improve studies and the application of novel pharmacologic agents may offer future benefit.