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Pharmacotherapy. 2006 Jun;26(6):798-805.

Addition of dexmedetomidine to standard sedation regimens after cardiac surgery: an outcomes analysis.

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  • 1College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1291, and the Department of Pharmacy, Clarian Health, Indianapolis, IN, USA.



To characterize inpatient use of intravenous sedatives in the real-world setting, and to evaluate clinical and economic outcomes when dexmedetomidine was used with midazolam and propofol for select cardiovascular procedures.


12-month retrospective analysis.


An administrative claims database of operational data from a nationally representative sample of 250 medical and surgical hospitals.


Patients who received midazolam plus propofol (9996 patients) or dexmedetomidine, midazolam, plus propofol (356 patients) after cardiac valve or vessel surgery.


The source of patient demographics (e.g., age, sex, Charlson Comorbidity Index) and outcomes (e.g., charges, length of stay, mortality rate) was the hospital billing claim form. Patients in the dexmedetomidine-midazolam-propofol cohort tended to be younger and male and to have fewer comorbidities than those midazolam-propofol cohort. The primary outcomes for the three-drug cohort showed significant reductions in total charges/patient (approximately $18,000, p<0.05), total hospital length of stay (0.6 days, p<0.0001), days in the intensive care unit or cardiac care unit (3.87 days, p<0.0001), and mortality (2%, p=0.0142). Although pharmacy charges were higher (approximately $4000/patient), lower charges for the intensive care or cardiac care unit, operating room, room and board, and respiratory services were observed in the dexmedetomidinemidazolam-propofol cohort compared with the two-drug cohort. Also, mechanical ventilation was shorter by approximately 0.5 day in the three-drug cohort (p<0.01).


These initial findings of a real-world assessment of dexmedetomidine use with other agents suggest favorable clinical and economic outcomes. Further research through randomized clinical trials of dexmedetomidine is warranted to better understand its optimum patient population, dosage, and the causality of the results, and to confirm the potential clinical and economic benefits observed in our patients.

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