To describe the use of dexmedetomidine for sedation in a large cohort of nonintubated children with acute respiratory insufficiency receiving noninvasive ventilatory support.
Single-center, retrospective, observational cohort study.
A large quaternary-care PICU.
The study cohort included 202 children receiving noninvasive ventilatory and a dexmedetomidine infusion within 48 hours of PICU admission over a 6-month period.
Measurements and Main Results:
The primary respiratory diagnoses in the cohort (median age, 2 yr) included status asthmaticus (60%) and bronchiolitis (29%). Dexmedetomidine was infused for a median of 35 hours with a median hourly dose across the patient cohort of 0.61 μg/kg/hr (range, 0.4–0.8 μg/kg/hr). The target sedation level was achieved in 168 patients (83%) in the cohort for greater than or equal to 80% of the recorded values over the entire noninvasive ventilatory course, with dexmedetomidine as the only continuously administered sedative agent. While vital signs were frequently abnormal relative to age-based norms, clinical interventions were needed rarely to treat bradycardia (13%), hypotension (20%), and hypopnea (5%). The most frequently used of these interventions was a dexmedetomidine dose reduction, fluid bolus, and titration of noninvasive ventilatory support. Five patients (2.5%) required endotracheal intubation: three due to progression of their respiratory illness, one with septic shock, and one with apnea requiring resuscitation. In 194 of 202 patients (96%), the outcome of the noninvasive ventilatory course was successful with the patient being weaned from noninvasive respiratory support to nasal cannula or room air.
Dexmedetomidine was often effective as a single continuous sedative infusion during pediatric noninvasive ventilatory. Cardiorespiratory events associated with its use were typically mild and/or reversible with dose reduction, fluid administration, and/or noninvasive ventilatory titration. Prospective studies comparing dexmedetomidine with other agents in this setting are warranted.