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Int J Clin Pharm. 2011 Apr;33(2):150-4. doi: 10.1007/s11096-011-9480-7. Epub 2011 Jan 28.

Efficacy and safety of dexmedetomidine versus morphine in post-operative cardiac surgery patients.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Minden, 11800, Penang, Malaysia.



To compare the efficacy of dexmedetomidine versus morphine as a sedative/analgesic among post-operative cardiac surgery patients.


A randomized controlled open-label study was performed at the cardiothoracic intensive care unit of Penang Hospital, Malaysia. A total of 28 patients who underwent cardiac surgeries were randomly assigned to receive either dexmedetomidine or morphine. Both groups were similar in terms of preoperative baseline characteristics. Efficacy measures included sedation scores and pain intensity and requirements for additional sedative/analgesic. Mean heart rate and arterial blood pressure were used as safety measures. Other measures were additional inotropes, extubation time and other concurrent medications.


The mean dose of dexmedetomidine infused was 0.12 [SD 0.03] μg kg⁻¹ h⁻¹, while that of morphine was 13.2 [SD 5.84] μg kg⁻¹ h⁻¹. Dexmedetomidine group showed more benefits in sedation and pain levels, additional sedative/analgesic requirements, and extubation time. No significant differences between the two groups for the outcome measures, except heart rate, which was significantly lower in the dexmedetomidine group.


This preliminary study suggests that dexmedetomidine was at least comparable to morphine in terms of efficacy and safety among cardiac surgery patients. Further studies with larger samples are recommended in order to determine the significant effects of the outcome measures.

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