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Br J Anaesth. 2008 May;100(5):697-700. doi: 10.1093/bja/aen070. Epub 2008 Mar 31.

Pharmacokinetics of intravenous dexmedetomidine in children under 11 yr of age.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care, Emergency Care and Pain Unit, Turku University Hospital, PO Box 52, FIN-20521 Turku, Finland. sanna.vilo@tyks.fi



Information has been very limited on the pharmacokinetics of the selective alpha(2)-adrenoceptor agonist dexmedetomidine in children, particularly in children <2 yr of age.


Eight children aged between 28 days and 23 months and eight children aged between 2 and 11 yr undergoing either elective bronchoscopy or nuclear magnetic resonance imaging were included in the study. Dexmedetomidine 1 microg kg(-1) was infused i.v. over 5 min. Blood samples for the measurement of plasma concentrations of dexmedetomidine were collected for 5 h after starting the infusion. Pharmacokinetic calculations were based on non-compartmental methods.


In the two groups of paediatric patients, the median (range) values for total plasma clearance of dexmedetomidine were 17.4 (14.1-27.6) and 17.3 (9.3-22.5) ml kg(-1) min(-1), for volume of distribution at steady state 3.8 (1.9-4.6) and 2.2 (1.3-2.8) litre kg(-1) (P<0.05), and for elimination half-life 139 (90-198) and 96 (69-140) min (P<0.05), respectively. The volume of distribution at steady state was negatively associated with subject age (r=-0.69, P<0.05).


To reach a certain plasma concentration, children younger than 2 yr of age evidently need larger initial doses of dexmedetomidine than the older children, as young children have a larger volume of distribution of the drug than older children and adults. Since the total plasma clearance of dexmedetomidine is independent of age, similar rates of infusion can be used in younger and older children to maintain a steady-state concentration of dexmedetomidine in plasma.

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