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Ann Pharmacother. 2012 Apr;46(4):530-40. doi: 10.1345/aph.1Q525. Epub 2012 Apr 10.

Analgosedation: a paradigm shift in intensive care unit sedation practice.

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  • 1University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



To critically evaluate the use of analgosedation in the management of agitation in critically ill mechanically ventilated patients.


Literature was accessed through MEDLINE (1948-November 2011) and Cochrane Library (2011, issue 1) using the terms analgosedation, analgosedation, or analgesia-based sedation alone or in combination with intensive care unit or critically ill. Reference lists of related publications were also reviewed.


All articles published in English were evaluated. Randomized controlled trials examining critically ill mechanically ventilated patients older than 18 years were included.


Limitations of current sedation practices include serious adverse drug events, prolonged mechanical ventilation time, and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay. Studies have demonstrated that analgosedation, a strategy that manages patient pain and discomfort first, before providing sedative therapy, results in improved patient outcomes compared to standard sedative-hypnotic regimens. Nine randomized controlled trials comparing remifentanil-based analgosedation to other commonly used agents (fentanyl, midazolam, morphine, and propofol) for ICU sedation and 1 trial comparing morphine to daily sedation interruption with propofol or midazolam were reviewed. Remifentanil is an ideal agent for analgosedation due to its easy titratability and organ-independent metabolism. When compared to sedative-hypnotic regimens, remifentanil-based regimens were associated with shorter duration of mechanical ventilation, more rapid weaning from the ventilator, and shorter ICU length of stay. Compared to fentanyl-based regimens, remifentanil had similar efficacy with the exception of increased pain requirements upon remifentanil discontinuation. Analgosedation was well tolerated, with no significant differences in hemodynamic stability compared to sedative-hypnotic regimens.


Analgosedation is an efficacious and well-tolerated approach to management of ICU sedation with improved patient outcomes compared to sedative-hypnotic approaches. Additional well-designed trials are warranted to clarify the role of analgosedation in the management of ICU sedation, including trials with nonopioid analgesics.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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