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Is It Time for an Expanded Role of Dexmedetomidine in Contemporary Anesthesia Practice? - A Clinician's Perspective.


Since its approval by US Food and Drug Administration in 1999 the clinical use of dexmedetomidine has been gaining in popularity. The indications and clinical applications of this drug have been expanded significantly. In this paper we reviewed its pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, mechanisms of action and mainly focused on its clinical uses and outcomes. Common clinical uses of dexmedetomidine include pre-operative anxiolysis, heart rate control during intubation, treatment of bronchospasm, prevention of laryngospasm and avoiding opioid-induced post-operative respiratory depression and nausea and vomiting. Avoiding opioid induced respiratory depression has been especially beneficial in patients with sleep apnea syndrome. Other problems that can be prevented with dexmedetomidine are tachydysrhythmias, myocardial ischemia, delirium and acute kidney injury. Dexmedetomidine is an excellent sedative drug for intubated patients and it greatly facilitates neurological evaluation. It has been used successfully as a patient-controlled anesthesia drug and to prevent shivering. It is also used as an adjuvant to local anesthetics. It has been suggested that dexmedetomidine is a drug that has many beneficial effects and should be used more frequently by anesthesia care providers to prevent common problems in the peri-operative period. With judicious titration to effect during the intravenous administration of this drug the occurrence of side effects can be minimized. It is very likely that this drug will ascend to take a much more prominent role in future anesthesia practice.

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