Background: A retrospective review was undertaken of all patients referred for computed tomography (CT) scans of the head for acute onset of confusion, not consequent on head trauma, during the period June 1, 2004 to May 31, 2007.
Method: Data were obtained by Microsoft Word search of the reports of the Radiology Department of the University Hospital of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. Two hundred and twenty-one patients were reviewed: 103 men and 118 women. The mean age of the sample was 64 years; 168 patients (76%) were 50 years old or older.
Result: Computed tomography scans were reported normal in 170 (76.9%) patients; 45 patients (20.4%) had definite acute intracranial CT findings. Findings were equivocal in three patients (1.4%) and unavailable for three (1.4%); 23.2% and 15.6% of patients above and below the age of 50 years respectively showed acute abnormalities on CT.
The most common acute finding on CT scan was an ischaemic infarct (68%). Other abnormalities included intracerebral haemorrhage and metastases 6.2% each, toxoplasmosis and primary brain tumour 4.2% each and subdural haematoma and meningitis 2.1% each. The diagnoses of toxoplasmosis were made based on appearances typical of toxoplasmosis on CT scans in patients whose request stated that they were HIV positive.
Conclusion: In the sample reviewed, most patients who presented with acute confusion were above the age of 50 years. Overall, 20.4% of patients from all age groups had acute abnormalities on CT with a relative higher proportion, 23.2% versus 15.6% of those over 50 years, having acute pathology. The most common abnormality was an ischaemic infarct. This finding is similar to that in developed countries and unlike that seen in other developing countries where infectious aetiologies predominate.