Introduction Delirium is a common complication in the elderly after surgery and is associated with worse outcomes. Multiple risk factors are related with postoperative delirium, such as exposure to general anaesthetics, pain and postoperative inflammatory response. Preclinical and clinical studies have shown that dexmedetomidine attenuated neurotoxicity induced by general anaesthetics, improved postoperative analgesia and inhibited inflammatory response after surgery. Several studies found that intraoperative use of dexmedetomidine can prevent postoperative delirium, but data were inconsistent. This study was designed to investigate the impact of dexmedetomidine administered during general anaesthesia in preventing delirium in the elderly after major non-cardiac surgery. Methods and analysis This is a randomised, double-blinded and placebo-controlled trial. 620 elderly patients (age ≥60 years) who are scheduled to undertake elective major non-cardiac surgery (with an expected duration ≥2 hours) are randomly divided into two groups. For patients in the dexmedetomidine group, a loading dose dexmedetomidine (0.6 µg/kg) will be administered 10 min before anaesthesia induction, followed by a continuous infusion at a rate of 0.5 µg/kg/hour until 1 hour before the end of surgery. For patients in the control group, normal saline will be administered with an identical rate as in the dexmedetomidine group. The primary endpoint is the incidence of delirium during the first five postoperative days. The secondary endpoints include pain intensity, cumulative opioid consumption and subjective sleep quality during the first three postoperative days, as well as the incidence of non-delirium complications and all-cause mortality within 30 days after surgery. Ethics and dissemination The study protocol was approved by the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of Peking University First Hospital (2015–987) and registered at Chinese Clinical Trial Registry ( http://www.chictr.org.cn ) with identifier ChiCTR-IPR-15007654. The results of the study will be presented at academic conferences and submitted to peer-reviewed journals. Trial registration number ChiCRR-IPR-15007654; Pre-results.
Open access, Anaesthesia