What is the role of imaging studies in the diagnosis of delirium?

Updated: Apr 25, 2019
  • Author: Kannayiram Alagiakrishnan, MD, MBBS, MPH, MHA; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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See the list below:

  • Neuroimaging

    • Perform CT scan of the head.

    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head may be helpful in the diagnosis of stroke, hemorrhage, and structural lesions.

  • Electroencephalogram

    • In delirium, generally, slowing of the posterior dominant rhythm and increased generalized slow-wave activity are observed on electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings.

    • In delirium resulting from alcohol/sedative withdrawal, increased EEG fast-wave activity occurs.

    • In patients with hepatic encephalopathy, diffuse EEG slowing occurs.

    • The type of patterns observed includes triphasic waves in toxicity or metabolic derangement, continuous discharges in nonconvulsive status epilepticus, and localized delta activity in focal lesions.

  • Chest radiograph is used to diagnose pneumonia or congestive heart failure.

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