A Novel Computerized Test for Detecting and Monitoring Visual Attentional Deficits and Delirium in the ICU

Cameron Green, Kirsty Hendry, Elizabeth S Wilson, Timothy Walsh, Mike Allerhand, Alasdair M J MacLullich, Zoë Tieges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Delirium in the ICU is associated with poor outcomes but is under-detected. Here we evaluated performance of a novel, graded test for objectively detecting inattention in delirium, implemented on a custom-built computerized device (Edinburgh Delirium Test Box-ICU).

DESIGN: A pilot study was conducted, followed by a prospective case-control study.

SETTING: Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh General ICU.

PATIENTS: A pilot study was conducted in an opportunistic sample of 20 patients. This was followed by a validation study in 30 selected patients with and without delirium (median age, 63 yr; range, 23-84) who were assessed with the Edinburgh Delirium Test Box-ICU on up to 5 separate days. Presence of delirium was assessed using the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The Edinburgh Delirium Test Box-ICU involves a behavioral assessment and a computerized test of attention, requiring patients to count slowly presented lights. Thirty patients were assessed a total of 79 times (n = 31, 23, 15, 8, and 2 for subsequent assessments; 38% delirious). Edinburgh Delirium Test Box-ICU scores (range, 0-11) were lower for patients with delirium than those without at the first (median, 0 vs 9.5), second (median, 3.5 vs 9), and third (median, 0 vs 10.5) assessments (all p < 0.001). An Edinburgh Delirium Test Box-ICU score less than or equal to 5 was 100% sensitive and 92% specific to delirium across assessments. Longitudinally, participants' Edinburgh Delirium Test Box-ICU performance was associated with delirium status.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that the Edinburgh Delirium Test Box-ICU has diagnostic utility in detecting ICU delirium in patients with Richmond Agitation and Sedation Scale Score greater than -3. The Edinburgh Delirium Test Box-ICU has potential additional value in longitudinally tracking attentional deficits because it provides a range of scores and is sensitive to change.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • Journal Article

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