Diagnosing delirium in dementia: the role of an innovative bedside EEG monitor

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Organizations

Dijn en Duin

Supervising Advisor: Dr. Pim van Gool

Project summary:

Delirium, also known as acute confusional state, poses unique challenges in patients with cognitive impairment or clinically manifest dementia. It causes immediate and extensive suffering in patients, distress in caregivers and it is associated with subsequent accelerated cognitive decline in neurodegenerative disease. While the diagnosis of delirium can be difficult in previously healthy older persons, detection of delirium superimposed on pre-existing cognitive impairment is extremely challenging from a clinical perspective. In this patient population it is difficult to accurately characterise newly occurring changes in attention and to reliably establish a fluctuating clinical course, as two of the most prominent features of delirium. Moreover, from a clinical point of view, distinguishing subtle changes in orientation, memory, thinking and behaviour from pre-existing cognitive impairments is extremely difficult. In this project an innovative bedside electroencephalographic monitor with automatic processing will be evaluated for the early and reliable detection of delirium in patients with cognitive impairment or clinically manifest dementia. Ultimately an improved diagnosis of delirium in these patients will facilitate early treatment and prevention of subsequent cognitive deterioration.