Ann Pharmacother. 2023 Jan 31:10600280221151170. doi: 10.1177/10600280221151170. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Review dexmedetomidine use in critically ill patients for niche indications including sleep, delirium, alcohol withdrawal, sepsis, and immunomodulation.
DATA SOURCES: Literature was sought using PubMed (February 2012-November 2022). Search terms included dexmedetomidine AND (hypnotics OR sedatives OR sleep OR delirium OR immunomodulation OR sepsis OR alcohol withdrawal).
STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: Relevant studies conducted in humans ≥18 years published in English were included. Exclusion criteria included systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and studies evaluating oral dexmedetomidine or other alpha-2 agonists.
DATA SYNTHESIS: A total of 231 articles were retrieved. After removal of duplicates, title and abstract screening, and application of inclusion criteria, 35 articles were included. Across the clinical conditions included in this review, varying clinical outcomes were seen. Dexmedetomidine may improve morbidity outcomes in delirium, sleep, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Due to limited human studies and poor quality of evidence, no conclusions can be drawn regarding the role of dexmedetomidine in immunomodulation or sepsis.
RELEVANCE TO PATIENT CARE AND CLINICAL PRACTICE: This review presents data for potential niche roles of dexmedetomidine aside from sedation in critically ill patients. This may serve as a guide for sedation selection in critically ill patients who may also benefit from the pleiotropic effects of dexmedetomidine due to a clinical condition discussed in this review.
CONCLUSION: While further studies are needed, dexmedetomidine may provide benefit in other indications in critically ill patients including delirium, sleep, and alcohol withdrawal. Given the poor quality of evidence of dexmedetomidine use in immunomodulation and sepsis, no conclusions can be drawn.