Be part of the knowledge.

We’re glad to see you’re enjoying ReachMD…
but how about a more personalized experience?

Register for free

New AEM Systematic Review Examines Head Imaging Abnormalities in Patients with Acute Delirium in the Emergency Department

ReachMD Healthcare Image

Des Plaines, IL — Older adults who come to the Emergency Department (ED) with altered mental status (AMS), delirium, or confusion are more likely to have an acutely abnormal finding on computed tomography (CT) if they have a focal neurological deficit. This is one conclusion of Head Computed Tomography Findings in Geriatric Emergency Department Patients with Delirium, Altered Mental Status, and Confusion: A Systematic Review published in the June issue of Academic Emergency Medicine (AEM) journal, the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM).

Objectives of the systematic review and meta-analysis were to report the proportion of older ED patients presenting with delirium who have acute abnormal findings on head imaging, and to assess whether anticoagulation, neurological deficits, trauma, or headache were associated with head imaging abnormalities in these patients.

The lead authors of this article are Shan W. Liu, MD, SD, associate professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School and Sangil Lee, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. With this study, Liu et. al found that 16% of head CTs ordered in the ED on older adults presenting with delirium, AMS, or confusion had an acutely abnormal finding. Anticoagulation was not associated with an abnormal head CT and findings of a focal neurologic deficit greatly increased the odds of an abnormal head CT. The authors were unable to comment on the association of headache or trauma with an abnormal head CT.

This systematic review was conducted on behalf of the Geriatric Emergency Department Delirium Guidelines Group. It lays the groundwork for determining a recommendation for geriatric ED guidelines regarding brain imaging for all delirious older adults in the ED.  



Academic Emergency Medicine, the monthly journal of Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, features the best in peer-reviewed, cutting-edge original research relevant to the practice and investigation of emergency care. The above study is published open access and can be downloaded by following Journalists wishing to interview the authors may contact Laura Giblin at


SAEM is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the improvement of care of the acutely ill and injured patient by leading the advancement of academic emergency medicine through education and research, advocacy, and professional development. To learn more, visit


Academic Emergency Medicine

Method of Research

Systematic review

Subject of Research


Article Title

Head computed tomography findings in geriatric emergency department patients with delirium, altered mental status, and confusion: A systematic review

Article Publication Date


Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Facebook Comments

Schedule15 Jun 2024