Hina Faisal, Fatima Qamar, En Shuo Hsu, Jiaqiong Xu, Eugene C. Lai, Stephen T. Wong, Faisal N. Masud

Prevalence of Delirium After Abdominal Surgery and Association With Ketamine: A Retrospective, Propensity-Matched Cohort Study

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

IMPORTANCE: Delirium is a common postoperative complication for older patients in the ICU. Ketamine, used primarily as an analgesic, has been thought to prevent delirium. OBJECTIVE: Determine the prevalence and association of delirium with low-dose ketamine use in ICU patients after abdominal surgery. DESIGN: Single-center, retrospective, propensity-matched cohort study. SETTING: Eight hospital academic medical center. PATIENTS: Cohort comprising 1836 patients admitted to the ICU after abdominal surgery between June 23, 2018 and September 1, 2022. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Propensity score matching (PSM) with a 3:1 ratio between no-ketamine use and ketamine use was performed through a greedy algorithm (caliper of 0.005). Outcomes of interest included: delirium (assessed by Confusion Assessment Method—ICU), mean pain score (Numeric Pain Scale or Critical Care Pain Observation Tool score as available), mean opioid consumption (morphine milligram equivalents), length of stay (d), and mortality. RESULTS: Prevalence of delirium was 47.71% (95% CI, 45.41–50.03%) in the cohort. Of 1836 patients, 120 (6.54%) used low-dose ketamine infusion. After PSM, the prevalence of delirium was 56.02% (95% CI, 51.05–60.91%) in all abdominal surgery patients. The ketamine group had 41% less odds of delirium (odds ratio [OR] = 0.59; 95% CI, 0.37–0.94; p = 0.026) than patients with no-ketamine use. Patients with ketamine use had higher mean pain scores (3.57 ± 2.86 vs. 2.21 ± 2.09, p < 0.001). In the subgroup analysis, patients in the ketamine-use group 60 years old or younger had 64% less odds of delirium (OR = 0.36; 95% CI, 0.13–0.95; p = 0.039). The mean pain scores were higher in the ketamine group for patients 60 years old or older. There was no significant difference in mortality and opioid consumption. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Low-dose ketamine infusion was associated with lower prevalence of delirium in ICU patients following abdominal surgery. Prospective studies should further evaluate ketamine use and delirium.

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