Dexmedetomidine use in the ICU: Are we there yet? (Pham)

Ahmed S, Murugan R. Dexmedetomidine use in the ICU: Are we there yet? Crit Care. 2013 May 31;17(3):320.

BACKGROUND: Long-term sedation with midazolam or propofol in intensive care units (ICUs) has serious adverse effects. Dexmedetomidine, an alpha-2 agonist available for ICU sedation, may reduce the duration of mechanical ventilation and enhance patient comfort.

METHODS: OBJECTIVE: The objective was to determine the efficacy of dexmedetomidine versus midazolam or propofol (preferred usual care) in maintaining sedation, reducing duration of mechanical ventilation, and improving patients’ interaction with nursing care.

DESIGN: Two phase 3 multicenter, randomized, double-blind trials were conducted.

SETTING: The MIDEX (Midazolam vs. Dexmedetomidine) trial compared midazolam with dexmedetomidine in ICUs of 44 centers in nine European countries. The PRODEX (Propofol vs. Dexmedetomidine) trial compared propofol with dexmedetomidine in 31 centers in six European countries and two centers in Russia.

SUBJECTS: The subjects were adult ICU patients who were receiving mechanical ventilation and who needed light to moderate sedation for more than 24 hours.

INTERVENTION: After enrollment, 251 and 249 subjects were randomly assigned midazolam and dexmedetomidine, respectively, in the MIDEX trial, and 247 and 251 subjects were randomly assigned propofol and dexmedetomidine, respectively, in the PRODEX trial. Sedation with dexmedetomidine, midazolam, or propofol; daily sedation stops; and spontaneous breathing trials were employed.

OUTCOMES: For each trial, investigators tested whether dexmedetomidine was noninferior to control with respect to proportion of time at target sedation level (measured by Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale) and superior to control with respect to duration of mechanical ventilation. Secondary end points were the ability of the patient to communicate pain (measured by using a visual analogue scale [VAS]) and length of ICU stay. Time at target sedation was analyzed in per-protocol (midazolam, n = 233, versus dexmedetomidine, n = 227; propofol, n = 214, versus dexmedetomidine, n = 223) population.

RESULTS: Dexmedetomidine/midazolam ratio in time at target sedation was 1.07 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.97 to 1.18), and dexmedetomidine/propofol ratio in time at target sedation was 1.00 (95% CI 0.92 to 1.08). Median duration of mechanical ventilation appeared shorter with dexmedetomidine (123 hours, interquartile range (IQR) 67 to 337) versus midazolam (164 hours, IQR 92 to 380; P = 0.03) but not with dexmedetomidine (97 hours, IQR 45 to 257) versus propofol (118 hours, IQR 48 to 327; P = 0.24). Patient interaction (measured by using VAS) was improved with dexmedetomidine (estimated score difference versus midazolam 19.7, 95% CI 15.2 to 24.2; P <0.001; and versus propofol 11.2, 95% CI 6.4 to 15.9; P <0.001). Lengths of ICU and hospital stays and mortality rates were similar. Dexmedetomidine versus midazolam patients had more hypotension (51/247 [20.6%] versus 29/250 [11.6%]; P = 0.007) and bradycardia (35/247 [14.2%] versus 13/250 [5.2%]; P <0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Among ICU patients receiving prolonged mechanical ventilation, dexmedetomidine was not inferior to midazolam and propofol in maintaining light to moderate sedation. Dexmedetomidine reduced duration of mechanical ventilation compared with midazolam and improved the ability of patients to communicate pain compared with midazolam and propofol. Greater numbers of adverse effects were associated with dexmedetomidine.

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