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J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Jan-Feb;20(1):45-53. doi: 10.5863/1551-6776-20.1.45.

Effects of Clonidine on Withdrawal From Long-term Dexmedetomidine in the Pediatric Patient.

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Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland.
School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.
Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland.
Department of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California.



To compare withdrawal symptoms among pediatric intensive care patients receiving clonidine to those not receiving clonidine while being weaned from long-term dexmedetomidine.


This retrospective analysis evaluated Withdrawal Assessment Tool-1 (WAT-1) scores and hemodynamic parameters in pediatric patients on dexmedetomidine for 5 days or longer between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2012. The primary objective was to compare withdrawal symptoms based on the number of elevated WAT-1 scores among patients on clonidine to those not on clonidine, while being weaned from long-term dexmedetomidine. The secondary objective was to describe withdrawal symptoms associated with long-term dexmedetomidine use.


Nineteen patients (median age, 1.5 years; interquartile range [IQR], 0.67-3.3) received 20 treatment courses of dexmedetomidine for at least 5 days. Clonidine was received by patients during 12 of the treatment courses. The patients in the clonidine group had an average of 0.8 (range, 0-6) elevated WAT-1 scores 24 hours post wean compared to an average of 3.2 (0-8) elevated WAT-1 scores in the no clonidine group (p = 0.49). There were no significant difierences between prewean and postwean systolic or diastolic blood pressures among the 2 groups. The average heart rate during the postwean period was 112 beats per minute (bpm) (range, 88.5-151.5) in the clonidine group compared to 138.4 bpm (range, 117.8-168.3) in the no clonidine group (p = 0.003). In the clonidine group, the mean change in heart rate postwean compared to prewean was an increase of 3.6 bpm (range, -39.6 to 47.5), compared to a mean increase of 29.9 bpm (range, 5.5-74.7) in the no clonidine group (p = 0.042).


There was no difierence in WAT-1 scores between groups, with the clonidine group displaying a trend towards fewer elevated WAT-1 scores during the 24 hours post dexmedetomidine wean. Patients who received clonidine had significantly lower heart rates than the no clonidine group.


clonidine; dexmedetomidine; sedation; tachycardia; withdrawal

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