Dexmedetomidine does not improve patient satisfaction when compared with propofol during mechanical ventilation* : Critical Care Medicine

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Dexmedetomidine does not improve patient satisfaction when compared with propofol during mechanical ventilation*

Corbett, Stephanie Mallow PharmD; Rebuck, Jill A. PharmD, BCPS; Greene, Christopher M. MD; Callas, Peter W. PhD; Neale, Bruce W. PharmD; Healey, Mark A. MD, FACS; Leavitt, Bruce J. MD, FACS

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Critical Care Medicine 33(5):p 940-945, May 2005. | DOI: 10.1097/01.CCM.0000162565.18193.E5



Dexmedetomidine (DEX) may provide a sedation level that enables sleep and communication, with less amnesia and pain medication requirements, during mechanical ventilation. Our study directly assessed patient-perceived satisfaction with coronary artery bypass graft surgery after administration of DEX or propofol for intensive care unit (ICU) sedation.


Prospective, randomized clinical study with subsequent questionnaire administration.


Tertiary care surgical ICU.


A total of 89 adult, nonemergent, coronary artery bypass graft patients with an expected length of intubation of <24 hrs.


Patients were randomized to either DEX or propofol; drug administration was performed via standardized anesthesia and nursing protocols.


Patients reported perceptions of their ICU experience after mechanical ventilation with a modified numerical-scale Hewitt questionnaire, validated specifically for ICU patients. Patients were questioned regarding awareness, recall, generalized comfort, level of pain, ability to interact with healthcare providers and family, feelings of agitation and anxiety, perceived ease of extubation, ability to sleep or rest, and satisfaction with ICU experience.

Main Results: 

Groups were well matched at baseline, with a mean ± sd age of 63.0 ± 10.4 yrs and weight of 88.7 ± 16.7 kg. No difference was observed for length of surgery, length of intubation, or ICU stay (p > .05). DEX patients perceived a shorter length of intubation (p = .044). A deeper sedation level was found in the propofol group (p = .021), with similar morphine and midazolam requirements (p = .317). Patient-rated level of overall awareness as a marker of amnesia did not differ between groups (p = .653). The ability to rest or sleep trended toward significance favoring propofol (p = .051). On evaluation of questionnaire ratings, DEX patients expressed more discomfort (p = .046), pain (p = .096), and sleeping difficulty (p = .036). Similar comfort levels were reported during extubation (p = .179).


Despite theoretical advantages of DEX to improve overall patient satisfaction, the two agents provide similar responses to amnesia and pain control. According to our findings, DEX does not seem to have any advantage compared with propofol for short-term sedation after coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

© 2005 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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