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Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci. 2013 Oct;3(4):274-5. doi: 10.4103/2229-5151.124161.

Use of dexmedetomidine to facilitate non-invasive ventilation.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma, Critical Care and Emergency General Surgery 259 First Street, Mineola NY 11501, USA.


Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure exacerbations, as well as pneumonia benefit from the use of non-invasive ventilation (NIV), due to increased patient comfort and a reduced incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia. However, some patients do not tolerate NIV due to anxiety or agitation, and traditionally physicians have withheld sedation from these patients due to concerns of loss of airway protection and respiratory depression. We report our recent experience with a 91-year-old female who received NIV for acute respiratory distress secondary to pneumonia. The duration of NIV was a total time period of 86 h, using the bilevel positive airway pressure mode via a full face mask. The patient was initially agitated with the NIV, but with the addition of the dexmedetomidine, she tolerated it well. The dexmedetomidine was administered without a loading dose, as a continuous infusion ranging from 0.2 to 0.5 mcg/kg/hr, titrated to a Ramsey score of three. This case illustrates the safe use of dexmedetomidine to facilitate NIV, and improve compliance, which may reduce ICU length of stay.


Acute respiratory failure; agitation; critical care; dexmedetomidine; non-invasive ventilation; sedation

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