Delirium: phenomenologic and etiologic subtypes.
ABSTRACT While all delirious patients have clouding of consciousness (alteration of attention) and cognitive dysfunction, the level of alertness of different patients may range from stuporous to hyperalert. We, therefore, developed an analog scale to rate the alertness of delirious patients, and a separate scale to rate the severity of their clouding of consciousness. Based on these scales, patients were categorized overall as relatively "activated" (relatively alert despite clouding of consciousness), or "somnolent" (relatively stuporous along with clouding of consciousness). Cognitive function was estimated using the Mini-Mental Status Exam. Separate ratings were made of hallucinations, delusions, illusions, and agitated behavior. Activated and somnolent patients had similar ages, overall severity of delirium, and Mini-Mental Status Exam scores. Activated patients, however, were more likely to have hallucinations, delusions, and illusions than somnolent patients, and were more likely to have agitated behavior. Patients with hepatic encephalopathy were more likely to have somnolent delirium, while patients with alcohol withdrawal appeared more likely to have activated delirium. These data indicate that phenomenologic subtypes of delirium can be defined on the basis of level of alertness. These subtypes are validated in part by their differing associations with symptoms unrelated to alertness. These subtypes may have different pathophysiology, and thus, potentially different treatments.
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ABSTRACT: Excited delirium (ED) syndrome is a serious medical condition associated with acute onset of agitated violent behavior that often culminates in a sudden unexplained death. While the contribution of restraint, struggle and the use of conductive energy devices (CED) to the cause and manner of death raise controversy, a CNS dysfunction of dopamine signaling may underlie the delirium and fatal autonomic dysfunction. We conducted a mortality review for a case series of ninety excited delirium deaths and present results on the association of a 2-protein biomarker signature. We conducted quantitative analyses of the dopamine transporter and heat shock protein 70 validated for specificity and degree of interindividual variation. Incident circumstances, force measures, autopsy and toxicology results were determined for all subjects. A majority of the victims in this case series tested positive for cocaine in blood and brain, although four had no licit or illicit drugs or alcohol measured at autopsy. Mean core body temperature where recorded was 40.7 degrees C. The expression of the heat shock protein HSPA1B transcript was elevated 1.8-4-fold in postmortem brain. The elevation of Hsp70 in autopsy brain specimens confirms that hyperthermia is an associated symptom and often a harbinger of death in these cases. Dopamine transporter levels were below the range of values measured in age-matched controls, providing pathologic evidence for increased risk of chaotic dopamine signaling in excited delirium. When combined with descriptions of the decedents' behavior prior to death, a 2-protein biomarker signature can serve as a reliable forensic tool for identifying the excited delirium syndrome at autopsy.Forensic science international 07/2009; 190(1-3):e13-9. DOI:10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.05.012 · 2.12 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Delirium is a disorder that besides four essential features consists of different combinations of symptoms. We reviewed the clinical classification of clusters of symptoms in two or three delirium subtypes. The possible implications of this subtype classification may be several. The investigation and exploration of clinical subtypes of delirium may provide information concerning the etiology, the pathogenesis, and the prognosis of delirium, but also may have therapeutic consequences. We searched several database for English-language articles. Selected articles were cross-checked for other relevant publications. We conducted a systematic review and retrieved ten clinical studies. The studies described in this review show different results, partly due to methodological problems and possibly by lack of a standard classification for delirium subtypes. According to the present literature a useful and reproducible method to classify (patterns of) symptoms in delirium subtypes seems to be the general rating of and division in to psychomotor subtypes. The Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS) and the Dublin Delirium Assessment Scale (DAS) appear to be reliable methods, together with the new version of the Delirium Rating Scale (DRS-R-98).International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 07/2005; 20(7):609-15. DOI:10.1002/gps.1343 · 3.09 Impact Factor