The Comparative Risk of Delirium with Different Opioids: A Systematic Review

Swart, L. M., van der Zanden, V., Spies, P. E., de Rooij, S. E. & van Munster, B. C., Jun-2017, In : Drugs & Aging. 34, 6, p. 437-443 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Objective There is substantial evidence that the use of opioids increases the risk of adverse outcomes such as delirium, but whether this risk differs between the various opioids remains controversial. In this systematic review, we evaluate and discuss possible differences in the risk of deliriumfromthe use of various types of opioids in older patients.

Methods We performed a search in MEDLINE by combining search terms on delirium and opioids. A specific search filter for use in geriatric medicine was used. Quality was scored according to the quality assessment for cohort studies of the Dutch Cochrane Institute.

Results Six studies were included, all performed in surgical departments and all observational. No study was rated high quality, one was rated moderate quality, and five were rated low quality. Information about dose, route, and timing of administration of the opioid was frequently missing. Pain and other important risk factors of delirium were often not taken into account. Use of tramadol or meperidine was associated with an increased risk of delirium, whereas the use of morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, and codeine were not, when compared with no opioid. Meperidine was also associated with an increased risk of delirium compared with other opioids, whereas tramadol was not. The risk of delirium appeared to be lower with hydromorphone or fentanyl, compared with other opioids. Numbers used for comparisons were small.

Conclusion Some data suggest that meperidine may lead to a higher perioperative risk for delirium; however, highquality studies that compare different opioids are lacking. Further comparative research is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-443
Number of pages7
JournalDrugs & Aging
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2017



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