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DelTect: Predicting Postoperative Delirium in the ICU

Team Members:
  • Nick Calafat
  • Daniel Myers
  • Namratha Potharaj
  • Brittany Reed
  • Joshua de Souza
  • Krithik Srithar
  • Soumyadipta Acharya, MSE, MD, PhD
  • Youseph Yazdi, PhD, MBA
  • Aditya Polsani, BDS, MS
  • Robert Stevens, MD, FCCM
  • David Giarracco, BS, MA
  • Michael Mestek, PhD
  • Cole Confer, MBA
  • Katie Solley
  • Medtronic Minimally Invasive Therapies


Each year, up to 50% of the 16 million surgical patients who are at least 65 years of age develop postoperative delirium (POD) during their hospital stay. POD is a neurological condition that describes a change in the patient’s mental status from their presurgical baseline that is independent of any preexisting neurocognitive disorder. It is characterized by inattention, disorientation, memory problems, disorganized thought, and perceptual disturbances. Multiple studies have associated POD with increased length of hospital stay, greater rates of institutional placement upon discharge, and longterm cognitive decline. Given that these effects are more pronounced with a longer duration of delirium, early and effective treatment is a high priority.

Despite the prevalence of POD and availability of screening tools, POD goes undiagnosed in up to 70% of all cases. Key stakeholder feedback suggests this widespread under-diagnosis is explained by the inadequacy and subjectivity of current behavioral screening tools. Nurses, who are the primary administrators of these screening tools, are often unable to identify subtle symptoms of delirium. Strong evidence shows that preventive interventions prior to clinical emergence of symptoms are highly effective in reducing the incidence and severity of delirium. However, there is wide under-implementation of preventive strategies due to a lack of monitoring solutions that can accurately predict the onset of delirium.

DelTect is a bedside monitor, used in the immediate postoperative space to assess a patient’s risk for developing delirium. The team has developed a novel algorithm based on physiological precursors to predict delirium independent of clinically observable symptoms. DelTect will empower heavily burdened nurses to allocate resources and attention to high risk patients. By enabling better management of delirium, DelTect aims to reduce length of hospital stay, institutional placement, and long-term cognitive impairment.

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