Emergence delirium: The past, the present, and maybe the future

  • Charles J Coté Harvard University


There is nothing more disturbing to parents than to observe their child in the recovery room completely out of control and, although staring at their parents, not actually recognizing them! They are irritable, uncooperative, thrashing around, trying to rip off their monitors or pull out their intravenous access, and may even attempt to remove wound dressings or casts. This situation is upsetting for everyone, but especially the parents. After “abandoning” their child to strangers during the surgery or procedure, they just want to hold their child and provide comfort, but nothing seems to work and they feel utterly helpless. This “strange behaviour” was first described by James Eckenhoff et al. in 1961.1 His group reviewed the records of 12 294 paediatric and adult patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and found an overall incidence of 5.5% (654 patients). The study included 1 397 children under the age of 19 years: 233 children in the age group 3–9 years, and 1 094 children aged 10–19 years.

Author Biography

Charles J Coté, Harvard University
MD Professor of Anaesthesia (Emeritus) Harvard Medical School Division of Pediatric Anesthesia Mass General Hospital for Children Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care Massachusetts General Hospital Boston Massachusetts USA