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[Correspondence] Preventing delirium: beyond dexmedetomidine

The incidence of postoperative delirium in elderly patients is very high, particularly in patients admitted to the intensive care unit (82%) and those who have undergone major orthopaedic (51%) or cardiac (46%) surgery.1 Postoperative delirium is associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and health-care costs; however, no preventive pharmacological strategies are available.1 A Lancet study by Xian Su and colleagues (Oct 15, p 1893)2 offers new hope. Treatment with dexmedetomidine in elderly patients admitted to the intensive care unit after non-cardiac surgery reduced the incidence of delirium from 23% to 9%.