DG Journal Club
BACKGROUND Sedation/analgesia is a daily challenge faced by intensivists managing patients with brain injury (BI) in intensive care units (ICUs). The optimization of sedation in patients with BI presents particular challenges. A choice must be made between the potential benefit of a rapid clinical evaluation and the potential exacerbation of intracranial hypertension in patients with impaired cerebral compliance. In the ICU, a pragmatic approach to the use of sedation/analgesia, including the optimal titration, management of multiple drugs, and use of any type of brain monitor, is needed. Our research question was as follows: the aim of the study is to identify what is the current daily practice regarding sedation/analgesia in the management of patients with BI in the ICU in France?
METHODS This study was composed of two parts. The first part was a descriptive survey of sedation practices and characteristics in 30 French ICUs and 27 academic hospitals specializing in care for patients with BI. This first step validates ICU participation in data collection regarding sedation-analgesia practices. The second part was a 1-day prospective cross-sectional snapshot of all characteristics and prescriptions of patients with BI.
RESULTS On the study day, among the 246 patients with BI, 106 (43%) had a brain monitoring device and 74 patients (30%) were sedated. Thirty-nine of the sedated patients (53%) suffered from intracranial hypertension, 14 patients (19%) suffered from agitation and delirium, and 7 patients (9%) were sedated because of respiratory failure. Fourteen patients (19%) no longer had a formal indication for sedation. In 60% of the sedated patients, the sedatives were titrated by nurses based on sedation scales. The Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale was used in 80% of the patients, and the Behavioral Pain Scale was used in 92%. The common sedatives and opioids used were midazolam (58.1%), propofol (40.5%), and sufentanil (67.5%). The cerebral monitoring devices available in the participating ICUs were transcranial Doppler ultrasound (100%), intracranial and intraventricular pressure monitoring (93.3%), and brain tissue oxygenation (60%). Cerebral monitoring by one or more monitoring devices was performed in 62% of the sedated patients. This proportion increased to 74% in the subgroup of patients with intracranial hypertension, with multimodal cerebral monitoring in 43.6%. The doses of midazolam and sufentanil were lower in sedated patients managed based on a sedation/analgesia scale.
CONCLUSIONS Midazolam and sufentanil are frequently used, often in combination, in French ICUs instead of alternative drugs. In our study, cerebral monitoring was performed in more than 60% of the sedated patients, although that proportion is still insufficient. Future efforts should stress the use of multiple monitoring modes and adherence to the indications for sedation to improve care of patients with BI. Our study suggests that the use of sedation and analgesia scales by nurses involved in the management of patients with BI could decrease the dosages of midazolam and sufentanil administered. Updated guidelines are needed for the management of sedation/analgesia in patients with BI.