Publications & Posters

Assessment of Risk Factors for Postoperative Delirium in Older Adults Who Underwent Spinal Surgery and Identifying Associated Biomarkers Using Exosomal Protein

Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing | August 17, 2023

Wonhee Baek, JuHee Lee, Yeonsoo Jang, Jeongmin Kim, Dong Ah Shin, Hyunki Park, Bon-Nyeo Koo, and Hyangkyu Lee

Korean Acad Nurs. 2023



With an increase in the aging population, the number of patients with degenerative spinal diseases undergoing surgery has risen, as has the incidence of postoperative delirium. This study aimed to investigate the risk factors affecting postoperative delirium in older adults who had undergone spine surgery and to identify the associated biomarkers.


This study is a prospective study. Data of 100 patients aged ≥ 70 years who underwent spinal surgery were analyzed. Demographic data, medical history, clinical characteristics, cognitive function, depression symptoms, functional status, frailty, and nutritional status were investigated to identify the risk factors for delirium. The Confusion Assessment Method, Delirium Rating Scale-R-98, and Nursing Delirium Scale were also used for diagnosing delirium. To discover the biomarkers, urine extracellular vesicles (EVs) were analyzed for tau, ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1), neurofilament light, and glial fibrillary acidic protein using digital immunoassay technology.


Nine patients were excluded, and data obtained from the remaining 91 were analyzed. Among them, 18 (19.8%) developed delirium. Differences were observed between participants with and without delirium in the contexts of a history of mental disorder and use of benzodiazepines (p = .005 and p = .026, respectively). Tau and UCH-L1—concentrations of urine EVs—were comparatively higher in participants with severe delirium than that in participants without delirium (p = .002 and p = .001, respectively).


These findings can assist clinicians in accurately identifying the risk factors before surgery, classifying high-risk patients, and predicting and detecting delirium in older patients. Moreover, urine EV analysis revealed that postoperative delirium following spinal surgery is most likely associated with brain damage.