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Intensive Care Med. 1997 Dec;23(12):1258-63.

Midazolam versus propofol for long-term sedation in the ICU: a randomized prospective comparison.

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  • 1Departments of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.



To compare the efficacy, safety, and cost of midazolam and propofol in prolonged sedation of critically ill patients.


Randomized, prospective study.


General intensive care unit (ICU) in a 1100-bed teaching hospital.


67 critically ill, mechanically ventilated patients.


Patients were invasively monitored and mechanically ventilated. A loading dose [midazolam 0.11 +/- 0.02 (SEM), propofol 1.3 +/- 0.2] was administered, followed by continuous infusion, titrated to achieve a predetermined sedation score. Sedation was continued as long as clinically indicated.


Mean duration of sedation was 141 and 99 h (NS) for midazolam and propofol, respectively, at mean hourly doses of 0.070 +/- 0.003 midazolam and 1.80 +/- 0.08 propofol. Overall, 68% of propofol patients versus 31% of midazolam (p < 0.001) patients had a > 20% decrease in systolic blood pressure after the loading dose, and 26 versus 45% (p < 0.01) showed a 25% decrease in spontaneous minute volume. Propofol required more daily dose adjustments (2.1 +/- 0.1 vs 1.4 +/- 0.1, p < 0.001). Nurse-rated quality of sedation with midazolam was higher (8.2 +/- 0.1 vs 7.3 +/- 0.1 on a 10-cm visual analog scale, p < 0.001). Resumption of spontaneous respiration was equally rapid. Recovery was faster after propofol (p < 0.02), albeit with a higher degree of agitation. Amnesia was evident in all midazolam patients but in only a third of propofol patients. The cost of propofol was 4-5 times higher.


Both drugs afforded reliable, safe, and controllable long-term sedation in ICU patients and rapid weaning from mechanical ventilation. Midazolam depressed respiration, allowed better maintenance of sedation, and yielded complete amnesia at a lower cost, while propofol caused more cardiovascular depression during induction.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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