Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 30, Issue 12, pp 2188–2196 | Cite as

Dexmedetomidine infusion for more than 24 hours in critically ill patients: sedative and cardiovascular effects

  • Yahya ShehabiEmail author
  • Urban Ruettimann
  • Harriet Adamson
  • Richard Innes
  • Mathieu Ickeringill



To assess the potential of dexmedetomidine for targeted sedation in complex Intensive Care (ICU) patients for >24 h.


Prospective, open label, clinical trial.


Tertiary general ICU.


Twenty critically ill patients, mean APACHE II 23(±9).


A continuous infusion of dexmedetomidine, median infusion time 71.5 (35–168) h, starting at 0.4μg·kg·h without a loading dose and adjusted (0.2–0.7μg·kg·h) to a target Ramsay Sedation Score (RSS) of 2–4. Rescue midazolam and/or morphine/fentanyl were given as clinically indicated.

Measurements and results

Haemodynamic parameters and RSSs were collected until 24 h after cessation. An RSS 2–5 was achieved in 1,147 (83%) of observations with a reduction in RSS of 6 from 13% in the first 6 h to 3% between 18 h and 24 h. Sixteen patients needed minimal or no additional midazolam, median 4 mg/day (0.5–10) and ten required minimal or no additional analgesia, median 2 mg/day (0.5–4.5), 55μg/day (14–63) of morphine/fentanyl.


A 16% reduction in mean systolic blood pressure (SBP) and 21% reduction in heart rate (HR) occurred over the first 4 h followed by minimal (± 10%) changes throughout the infusion. A rise in SBP was observed in two patients. After abrupt cessation, SBP and HR monitored for 24 h rose by 7% and 11%, respectively.


Dexmedetomidine was an effective sedative and analgesic sparing drug in critically ill patients when used without a loading dose for longer than 24 h with predictable falls in blood pressure and HR. There was no evidence of cardiovascular rebound 24 h after abrupt cessation of infusion.


Dexmedetomidine Sedatives Intensive care unit Analgesics 



We thank David Bihari and the intensive care nursing staff for their contribution.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yahya Shehabi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Urban Ruettimann
    • 1
  • Harriet Adamson
    • 1
  • Richard Innes
    • 1
  • Mathieu Ickeringill
    • 1
  1. 1.Prince of Wales HospitalBarker StreetRandwick 2031Australia

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