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February 1967

Intellectual and Personality Changes Following Open-Heart Surgery

Author Affiliations

From the Veterans Administration Hospital, Minneapolis, and the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(2):210-214. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730200078011

A MAIN focus of interest in relation to open-heart surgery has been the reputedly high incidence of delirium or psychosis characterized by perceptual distortion, hallucinations, and paranoid ideation occurring two to five days following surgery. Egerton and Kay1 reported a 41% incidence of postoperative delirium, and Blachly and Starr,2 57%. Kornfeld et al3 found a similar incidence in reviewing their records, but when they personally interviewed a sample of their patients they raised their estimate of the incidence of postoperative delirium to 70%. Predisposing factors which statistically are more frequent in the patients developing delirium are seriousness of illness preoperatively,2 degree of physical stress during surgery,2 and environmental circumstances such as marital instability, overwhelming personal problems, and a lack of positive interpersonal support during hospitalization.1 However, there appears to be increasing evidence pointing toward the