Purpose: Increasing number of older adults are receiving cancer surgeries especially for gastrointestinal cancers, which brings forth attention to age-related postoperative complication prevention. Postoperative delirium (POD) is a common complication that rises after surgical procedures involving general anesthesia, largely in the elderly population. Due to its sudden onset and fluctuating symptoms, POD often goes underdiagnosed and undertreated even though it may lead to various adverse outcomes. POD in GI cancer surgical elderly patients is poorly understood in terms of prevalence, pathophysiology, assessment, treatment and nursing management. We aimed to identify available literature and investigate study results to broaden our understanding of geriatric GI cancer POD. Methods: The search process involved six databases to identify relevant studies abided by inclusion criteria. Results: Eleven studies were selected for this review. Geriatric POD is closely related to frailty and surgical complications. Frailty increases vulnerability to surgical stress and causes cerebral changes that affect stress-regulating neurotransmitter proportions, brain blood flow, vascular density, neuron cell life and intracellular signal transductions. These conditions of frailty result in increased risks of surgical complications such as blood loss, cardiovascular events and inflammation, which all may lead to the POD. Mini Metal State Examination (MMSE), Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) and Delirium Rating Scale-revised-98 (DRS-R-98) are recommended for POD assessment to identify high-risk patients. Conclusion: The POD prevalence ranged from 8.2% to 51.0%. The multifactorial causative mechanism suggests nurses to identify highrisk elderly GI-cancer surgical patients by reviewing patient-specific factors and surgery-specific factors.
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