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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2008 Feb;52(2):289-94. Epub 2007 Nov 14.

Electroencephalogram spindle activity during dexmedetomidine sedation and physiological sleep.

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Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Tampere University Hospital, Finland.



Dexmedetomidine, a selective alpha(2)-adrenoceptor agonist, induces a unique, sleep-like state of sedation. The objective of the present work was to study human electroencephalogram (EEG) sleep spindles during dexmedetomidine sedation and compare them with spindles during normal physiological sleep, to test the hypothesis that dexmedetomidine exerts its effects via normal sleep-promoting pathways.


EEG was continuously recorded from a bipolar frontopolar-laterofrontal derivation with Entropy Module (GE Healthcare) during light and deep dexmedetomidine sedation (target-controlled infusions set at 0.5 and 3.2 ng/ml) in 11 healthy subjects, and during physiological sleep in 10 healthy control subjects. Sleep spindles were visually scored and quantitatively analyzed for density, duration, amplitude (band-pass filtering) and frequency content (matching pursuit approach), and compared between the two groups.


In visual analysis, EEG activity during dexmedetomidine sedation was similar to physiological stage 2 (S2) sleep with slight to moderate amount of slow-wave activity and abundant sleep spindle activity. In quantitative EEG analyses, sleep spindles were similar during dexmedetomidine sedation and normal sleep. No statistically significant differences were found in spindle density, amplitude or frequency content, but the spindles during dexmedetomidine sedation had longer duration (mean 1.11 s, SD 0.14 s) than spindles in normal sleep (mean 0.88 s, SD 0.14 s; P=0.0014).


Analysis of sleep spindles shows that dexmedetomidine produces a state closely resembling physiological S2 sleep in humans, which gives further support to earlier experimental evidence for activation of normal non-rapid eye movement sleep-promoting pathways by this sedative agent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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