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J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Jan;15(1):30-7.

Evaluation of adverse events noted in children receiving continuous infusions of dexmedetomidine in the intensive care unit.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacy, Clinical and Administrative Sciences, Tulsa at University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, Tulsa, Oklahoma.



Dexmedetomidine is an α(2)-adrenergic receptor agonist with sedative and analgesic effects in mechanically ventilated adults and children. Safety and efficacy data are limited in children. The purpose of this study is to retrospectively identify the incidence and types of adverse events noted in children receiving continuous infusions of dexmedetomidine and evaluate potential risk factors for adverse events.


Between July 1, 2006, and July 31, 2007, data were collected on all children (< 18 years) who received continuous infusions of dexmedetomidine. Data collection included demographics, dexmedetomidine regimen, and type/number of adverse events. The primary endpoint was the total number of adverse events noted, including: transient hypertension, hypotension, neurological manifestations, apnea, and bradycardia. Secondary endpoints included categorization of each type of adverse event and an assessment of risk factors. A logistic regression model was used to assess the relationship of adverse events with independent variables including length of ICU stay, cumulative dose, peak infusion rate, duration of therapy, PRISM III score, and bolus dose.


Thirty-six patients received dexmedetomidine representing 41 infusions. The median age was 16 months (range, 0.1-204 months) and median PRISM III score was 2 (range, 0-18). Eighteen (43.9%) patients received a bolus dose of dexmedetomidine. The median cumulative dose (mcg/kg) and peak dose (mcg/kg/hr) were 8.5 (range, 2.2-193.7) and 0.5 (range, 0.2-0.7), respectively. Dexmedetomidine was continued for a median of 20 (range, 3-263) hours. Six (14.6%) patients were slowly tapered off the continuous infusions. Twenty-one adverse events were noted in 17 patients, including 4 neurologic manifestations. Fourteen patients required interventions for adverse events. ICU length of stay was the only independent risk factor (p=0.036) for development of adverse events.


Several potential adverse events were noted with dexmedetomidine continuous infusions including possible neurological manifestations. Further studies are needed looking at adverse events associated with dexmedetomidine use in the pediatric population.

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