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Peri-Op Melatonin Doesn't Cut Post-Op Delirium in Elderly

Findings among a group of elderly patients undergoing acute surgery for hip fracture

MONDAY, Sept. 8, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For elderly patients undergoing acute surgery for hip fracture, perioperative melatonin does not reduce the incidence of delirium, according to a study published online Sept. 2 in CMAJ, the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Annemarieke de Jonghe, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and colleagues compared the effect of melatonin and placebo on the incidence and duration of delirium. Three hundred seventy-eight patients (mean age, 84 years) who were scheduled for acute hip surgery were randomized to receive melatonin (3 mg) or placebo in the evening for five consecutive days, starting within 24 hours after admission.

The researchers found that 63 percent of the patients lived at home before admission, and 55.6 percent had cognitive impairment. Melatonin had no effect on the incidence of delirium (29.6 percent in the melatonin group versus 25.5 percent in the placebo group). At the three-month follow-up there were no between-group differences noted in mortality or in cognitive or functional outcomes.

"In this older population with hip fracture, treatment with melatonin did not reduce the incidence of delirium," the authors write.

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