Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 941–950 | Cite as

Sepsis-associated delirium

  • Marion Ebersoldt
  • Tarek Sharshar
  • Djillali Annane



Sepsis-associated delirium is a common and poorly understood neurological complication of sepsis. This review provides an update of the diagnostic criteria and treatment strategies and the current knowledge about the mechanisms involved in sepsis associated brain dysfunction.

Data sources

Articles published between 1981 and 2006 were identified through a Medline search for “encephalopathy” and “sepsis” and by hand searching of articles cited in the identified publications. The immune response to sepsis results in multiorgan failure including brain dysfunction.


The potential mechanisms for sepsis-associated delirium include vascular damage, endothelial activation, breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, metabolic disorders, brain inflammation and apoptosis. On the other hand, there is evidence for distinct neuroprotective factors, such as anti-inflammatory mediators and glial cell activity.


The diagnosis of sepsis-associated delirium relies mainly on clinical and electrophysiological criteria, and its treatment is entirely based on general management of sepsis.


Sepsis Encephalopathy Inflammation Blood-brain barrier Apoptosis Brain dysfunction 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marion Ebersoldt
    • 1
  • Tarek Sharshar
    • 1
  • Djillali Annane
    • 1
  1. 1.Service de Réanimation Médicale, Hôpital Raymond Poincaré (AP-HP)Université de Versailles Saint QuentinGarchesFrance

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