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Ann Intensive Care. 2013 Feb 22;3(1):5. doi: 10.1186/2110-5820-3-5.

Evaluation of the depth of sedation in an intensive care unit based on the photo motor reflex variations measured by video pupillometry.

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Service de Réanimation Polyvalente Hôpital Robert Debré, Reims Cedex, CHU 51092, France.



Evaluating depth of sedation in the intensive care unit (ICU) is crucial for the management of mechanically ventilated patients but can be challenging in some situations. Because the depth of hypnosis is correlated with the decrease in photomotor reflex (PMR), we suggest using pupillometric video as an automated, noninvasive, simple, and reproducible technique to evaluate the depth of sedation in ICU patients. We compare the effectiveness of this procedure to the bispectral index (BIS).


Thirty-one patients requiring sedation and ventilation were included in this monocentric, observational study. The posology of hypnotics and morphinics were based on the Richmond Agitation and Sedation Scale (RASS). PMR was measured by the Neurolight® (IDMED) system and BIS value by BIS Vista® (Anandic Medical Systems). RASS, PMR, and BIS were measured three times daily in all patients. Data acquired by pupillometric video included variation in pupillary diameter (ΔPD), latency time (LT), and maximal speed of pupillary constriction (Vmax). These parameters were analyzed after having classified BIS values in three groups (<40 heavy sedation; 40 ≤ BIS ≤ 60 acceptable sedation; >60 light sedation). Exclusion criteria were neurological or ophthalmologic pathologies that could interfere with PMR.


There was a significant difference in Vmax and ΔPD between the BIS < 40 group and 40 ≤ BIS ≤ 60 groups (p < 0.0001 for each) and between the BIS < 40 and BIS > 60 groups (p < 0.0001 for each). There were no significant differences in Vmax and ΔPD between the 40 ≤ BIS ≤ 60 and BIS > 60 groups. There was no correlation between any of the BIS groups and LT.


Vmax and ΔPD seem to be relevant criteria compared with the BIS and the RASS. Pupillometric video monitoring of depth of sedation could be beneficial in ICU patients, especially for those under myorelaxant drugs, where no clinical evaluation of sedation is possible.

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