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ASA: Study Finds Benefit From Treatment Before Extubation

Dexmedetomidine, an α2-receptor agonist, associated with shorter extubation time

THURSDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The use of dexmedetomidine may be useful in helping wean agitated patients from mechanical ventilation, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, held from Oct. 17 to 21 in New Orleans.

Po Liang Chen, M.D., and Julin F. Tang, M.D., of San Francisco General Hospital, analyzed data from 20 surgical intensive care unit patients who were randomized to receive the α2-receptor agonist dexmedetomidine or serve as controls who were extubated using a standard hospital weaning protocol.

The researchers found that extubation time was substantially shorter in the treatment group (2.0 versus 46.0 hours), as was ventilator time (59.2 versus 203.9 hours). The rate of successful extubation was also higher in the treatment group (80 versus 30 percent). Following extubation, the treatment group had higher pCO2 levels (41.2 versus 37.5 mm Hg) and lower Ramsay Sedation Scale scores (2.1 versus 3.1). The authors further note that the dexmedetomidine group's trend toward shorter intensive care unit stay was not significant.

"The use of dexmedetomidine seems safe and beneficial in extubating agitated patients previously failing weaning attempts with shorter extubation time, less ventilator days and more successful extubation. The secondary end point of dexmedetomidine in shortening the length of intensive care unit stay still remains uncertain," the authors conclude.

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