Authors: Åse Lodenius, M.D., D.E.S.A.et al
Anesthesiology 10 2016, Vol.125, 700-715
Background: In contrast to general anesthetics such as propofol, dexmedetomidine when used for sedation has been put forward as a drug with minimal effects on respiration. To obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the regulation of breathing during sedation with dexmedetomidine, the authors compared ventilatory responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia during sedation with dexmedetomidine and propofol.
Methods: Eleven healthy male volunteers entered this randomized crossover study. Sedation was administered as an intravenous bolus followed by an infusion and monitored by Observer’s Assessment of Alertness/Sedation (OAA/S) scale, Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale, and Bispectral Index Score. Hypoxic and hypercapnic ventilatory responses were measured at rest, during sedation (OAA/S 2 to 4), and after recovery. Drug exposure was verified with concentration analysis in plasma.
Results: Ten subjects completed the study. The OAA/S at the sedation goal was 3 (3 to 4) (median [minimum to maximum]) for both drugs. Bispectral Index Score was 82 ± 8 and 75 ± 3, and the drug concentrations in plasma at the sedation target were 0.66 ± 0.14 and 1.26 ± 0.36 μg/ml for dexmedetomidine and propofol, respectively. Compared with baseline, sedation reduced hypoxic ventilation to 59 and 53% and the hypercapnic ventilation to 82 and 86% for dexmedetomidine and propofol, respectively. In addition, some volunteers displayed upper airway obstruction and episodes of apnea during sedation.
Conclusions: Dexmedetomidine-induced sedation reduces ventilatory responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia to a similar extent as sedation with propofol. This finding implies that sedation with dexmedetomidine interacts with both peripheral and central control of breathing.