Dexmedetomidine is used to reduce opioid consumption in pediatric anesthesia. However, there is conflicting evidence in pediatric adenotonsillectomy literature regarding the total perioperative opioid-sparing effects of dexmedetomidine. The aim of this study was to examine the association between dexmedetomidine and total perioperative opioid consumption in children undergoing adenotonsillectomy.
This was a retrospective cohort study of the children undergoing adenotonsillectomy surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital between November 2017 and October 2018. Intraoperative dexmedetomidine was the exposure of interest. The primary outcome was total perioperative opioid consumption calculated as oral morphine equivalents (OME). Secondary outcomes of interest included opioid consumption and pain scores based on presence and absence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and postanesthesia care unit (PACU) duration. We used multivariable linear regression to estimate the association of dexmedetomidine on the outcomes.
A total of 941 patients met inclusion criteria, 697 (74.1%) received intraoperative dexmedetomidine. For every 0.1 µg/kg increase in intraoperative dexmedetomidine, the total perioperative OME (mg/kg) decreases by 0.021 mg/kg (95% CI, −0.027 to −0.015; P < .001). Pain scores did not significantly vary by OSA status. PACU duration increased by 1.14 minutes (95% CI, 0.30-1.99; P = .008) for each 0.1 µg/kg of intraoperative dexmedetomidine.
Dexmedetomidine is associated with an overall perioperative opioid-sparing effect in children undergoing adenotonsillectomy and a small but statistically significant increase in PACU duration. Additionally, children with OSA did not have reduced perioperative opioid consumption.