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1.  Effect of an analgo-sedation protocol for neurointensive patients: a two-phase interventional non-randomized pilot study 
Critical Care  2010;14(2):R71.
Sedation protocols are needed for neurointensive patients. The aim of this pilot study was to describe sedation practice at a neurointensive care unit and to assess the feasibility and efficacy of a new sedation protocol. The primary outcomes were a shift from sedation-based to analgesia-based sedation and improved pain management. The secondary outcomes were a reduction in unplanned extubations and duration of sedation.
This was a two-phase (before-after), prospective controlled study at a university-affiliated, 14-bed neurointensive care unit in Denmark. The sample included patients requiring mechanical ventilation for at least 48 hours treated with continuous sedative and analgesic infusions or both. During the observation phase the participants (n = 106) were sedated as usual (non-protocolized), and during the intervention phase the participants (n = 109) were managed according to a new sedation protocol.
Our study showed a shift toward analgo-sedation, suggesting feasibility of the protocol. We found a significant reduction in the use of propofol (P < .001) and midazolam (P = .001) and an increase in fentanyl (P < .001) and remifentanil (P = .003). Patients selected for daily sedation interruption woke up faster, and estimates of pain free patients increased from 56.8% to 82.7% (P < .001), suggesting efficacy of the protocol. The duration of sedation and unplanned extubations were unchanged.
Our pilot study showed feasibility and partial efficacy of our protocol. Some neurointensive patients might not benefit from protocolized practice. We recommend an interdisciplinary effort to target patients requiring less sedation, as issues of oversedation and inadequate pain management still need more attention.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC2887194  PMID: 20403186
2.  Sedation in the intensive care unit with remifentanil/propofol versus midazolam/fentanyl: a randomised, open-label, pharmacoeconomic trial 
Critical Care  2006;10(3):R91.
Remifentanil is an opioid with a unique pharmacokinetic profile. Its organ-independent elimination and short context-sensitive half time of 3 to 4 minutes lead to a highly predictable offset of action. We tested the hypothesis that with an analgesia-based sedation regimen with remifentanil and propofol, patients after cardiac surgery reach predefined criteria for discharge from the intensive care unit (ICU) sooner, resulting in shorter duration of time spent in the ICU, compared to a conventional regimen consisting of midazolam and fentanyl. In addition, the two regimens were compared regarding their costs.
In this prospective, open-label, randomised, single-centre study, a total of 80 patients (18 to 75 years old), who had undergone cardiac surgery, were postoperatively assigned to one of two treatment regimens for sedation in the ICU for 12 to 72 hours. Patients in the remifentanil/propofol group received remifentanil (6- max. 60 μg kg-1 h-1; dose exceeds recommended labelling). Propofol (0.5 to 4.0 mg kg-1 h-1) was supplemented only in the case of insufficient sedation at maximal remifentanil dose. Patients in the midazolam/fentanyl group received midazolam (0.02 to 0.2 mg kg-1 h-1) and fentanyl (1.0 to 7.0 μg kg-1 h-1). For treatment of pain after extubation, both groups received morphine and/or non-opioid analgesics.
The time intervals (mean values ± standard deviation) from arrival at the ICU until extubation (20.7 ± 5.2 hours versus 24.2 h ± 7.0 hours) and from arrival until eligible discharge from the ICU (46.1 ± 22.0 hours versus 62.4 ± 27.2 hours) were significantly (p < 0.05) shorter in the remifentanil/propofol group. Overall costs of the ICU stay per patient were equal (approximately €1,700 on average).
Compared with midazolam/fentanyl, a remifentanil-based regimen for analgesia and sedation supplemented with propofol significantly reduced the time on mechanical ventilation and allowed earlier discharge from the ICU, at equal overall costs.
PMCID: PMC1550941  PMID: 16780597
3.  Current practices and barriers impairing physicians’ and nurses’ adherence to analgo-sedation recommendations in the intensive care unit - a national survey 
Critical Care  2014;18(6):655.
Appropriate management of analgo-sedation in the intensive care unit (ICU) is associated with improved patient outcomes. Our objectives were: a) to describe utilization of analgo-sedation regimens and strategies (assessment using scales, protocolized analgo-sedation and daily sedation interruption (DSI)) and b) to describe and compare perceptions challenging utilization of these strategies, amongst physicians and nurses.
In the 101 adult ICUs in Belgium, we surveyed all physicians and a sample of seven nurses per ICU. A multidisciplinary team designed a survey tool based on a previous qualitative study and a literature review. The latter was available in paper (for nurses essentially) and web based (for physicians). Topics addressed included: practices, perceptions regarding recommended strategies and demographics. Pre-testing involved respondents’ debriefings and test re-test reliability. Four reminders were sent.
Response rate was 60% (898/1,491 participants) representing 94% (95/101) of all hospitals. Protocols were available to 31% of respondents. Validated scales to monitor pain in patients unable to self-report and to monitor sedation were available to 11% and 75% of respondents, respectively. Frequency of use of sedation scales varied (never to hourly). More physicians than nurses agreed with statements reporting benefits of sedation scales, including: increased autonomy for nurses (82% versus 68%, P <0.001), enhancement of their role (84% versus 66%, P <0.001), aid in monitoring administration of sedatives (83% versus 68%, P <0.001), and cost control (54% versus 29%, P <0.001). DSI was used in less than 25% of patients for 75% of respondents. More nurses than physicians indicated DSI is contra-indicated in hemodynamic instability (66% versus 53%, P <0.001) and complicated weaning from mechanical ventilation (47% versus 29%, P <0.001). Conversely, more physicians than nurses indicated contra-indications including: seizures (56% versus 40%, P <0.001) and refractory intracranial hypertension (90% versus 83%, P <0.001). More nurses than physicians agreed with statements reporting DSI impairs patient comfort (60% versus 37%, P <0.001) and increases complications such as self-extubation (82% versus 69%, P <0.001).
Current analgo-sedation practices leave room for improvement. Physicians and nurses meet different challenges in using appropriate analgo-sedation strategies. Implementational interventions must be tailored according to profession.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0655-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4324789  PMID: 25475212
4.  Decreased duration of mechanical ventilation when comparing analgesia-based sedation using remifentanil with standard hypnotic-based sedation for up to 10 days in intensive care unit patients: a randomised trial [ISRCTN47583497] 
Critical Care  2005;9(3):R200-R210.
This randomised, open-label, multicentre study compared the safety and efficacy of an analgesia-based sedation regime using remifentanil with a conventional hypnotic-based sedation regime in critically ill patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation for up to 10 days.
One hundred and five randomised patients received either a remifentanil-based sedation regime (initial dose 6 to 9 μg kg-1 h-1 (0.1 to 0.15 μg kg-1 min-1) titrated to response before the addition of midazolam for further sedation (n = 57), or a midazolam-based sedation regime with fentanyl or morphine added for analgesia (n = 48). Patients were sedated to an optimal Sedation–Agitation Scale (SAS) score of 3 or 4 and a pain intensity (PI) score of 1 or 2.
The remifentanil-based sedation regime significantly reduced the duration of mechanical ventilation by more than 2 days (53.5 hours, P = 0.033), and significantly reduced the time from the start of the weaning process to extubation by more than 1 day (26.6 hours, P < 0.001). There was a trend towards shortening the stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) by 1 day. The median time of optimal SAS and PI was the same in both groups. There was a significant difference in the median time to offset of pharmacodynamic effects when discontinuing study medication in patients not extubated at 10 days (remifentanil 0.250 hour, comparator 1.167 hours; P < 0.001). Of the patients treated with remifentanil, 26% did not receive any midazolam during the study. In those patients that did receive midazolam, the use of remifentanil considerably reduced the total dose of midazolam required. Between days 3 and 10 the weighted mean infusion rate of remifentanil remained constant with no evidence of accumulation or of a development of tolerance to remifentanil. There was no difference between the groups in SAS or PI score in the 24 hours after stopping the study medication. Remifentanil was well tolerated.
Analgesia-based sedation with remifentanil was well tolerated; it reduces the duration of mechanical ventilation and improves the weaning process compared with standard hypnotic-based sedation regimes in ICU patients requiring long-term ventilation for up to 10 days.
PMCID: PMC1175879  PMID: 15987391
5.  Safety and efficacy of analgesia-based sedation with remifentanil versus standard hypnotic-based regimens in intensive care unit patients with brain injuries: a randomised, controlled trial [ISRCTN50308308] 
Critical Care  2004;8(4):R268-R280.
This randomised, open-label, observational, multicentre, parallel group study assessed the safety and efficacy of analgesia-based sedation using remifentanil in the neuro-intensive care unit.
Patients aged 18–80 years admitted to the intensive care unit within the previous 24 hours, with acute brain injury or after neurosurgery, intubated, expected to require mechanical ventilation for 1–5 days and requiring daily downward titration of sedation for assessment of neurological function were studied. Patients received one of two treatment regimens. Regimen one consisted of analgesia-based sedation, in which remifentanil (initial rate 9 μg kg-1 h-1) was titrated before the addition of a hypnotic agent (propofol [0.5 mg kg-1 h-1] during days 1–3, midazolam [0.03 mg kg-1 h-1] during days 4 and 5) (n = 84). Regimen two consisted of hypnotic-based sedation: hypnotic agent (propofol days 1–3; midazolam days 4 and 5) and fentanyl (n = 37) or morphine (n = 40) according to routine clinical practice. For each regimen, agents were titrated to achieve optimal sedation (Sedation–Agitation Scale score 1–3) and analgesia (Pain Intensity score 1–2).
Overall, between-patient variability around the time of neurological assessment was statistically significantly smaller when using remifentanil (remifentanil 0.44 versus fentanyl 0.86 [P = 0.024] versus morphine 0.98 [P = 0.006]. Overall, mean neurological assessment times were significantly shorter when using remifentanil (remifentanil 0.41 hour versus fentanyl 0.71 hour [P = 0.001] versus morphine 0.82 hour [P < 0.001]). Patients receiving the remifentanil-based regimen were extubated significantly faster than those treated with morphine (1.0 hour versus 1.93 hour, P = 0.001) but there was no difference between remifentanil and fentanyl. Remifentanil was effective, well tolerated and provided comparable haemodynamic stability to that of the hypnotic-based regimen. Over three times as many users rated analgesia-based sedation with remifentanil as very good or excellent in facilitating assessment of neurological function compared with the hypnotic-based regimen.
Analgesia-based sedation with remifentanil permitted significantly faster and more predictable awakening for neurological assessment. Analgesia-based sedation with remifentanil was very effective, well tolerated and had a similar adverse event and haemodynamic profile to those of hypnotic-based regimens when used in critically ill neuro-intensive care unit patients for up to 5 days.
PMCID: PMC522854  PMID: 15312228
analgesia-based sedation; fentanyl; intensive care; morphine; remifentanil
6.  Remifentanil versus fentanyl for analgesia based sedation to provide patient comfort in the intensive care unit: a randomized, double-blind controlled trial [ISRCTN43755713] 
Critical Care  2003;8(1):R1-R11.
This double-blind, randomized, multicentre study was conducted to compare the efficacy and safety of remifentanil and fentanyl for intensive care unit (ICU) sedation and analgesia.
Intubated cardiac, general postsurgical or medical patients (aged ≥ 18 years), who were mechanically ventilated for 12–72 hours, received remifentanil (9 μg/kg per hour; n = 77) or fentanyl (1.5 μg/kg per hour; n = 75). Initial opioid titration was supplemented with propofol (0.5 mg/kg per hour), if required, to achieve optimal sedation (i.e. a Sedation–Agitation Scale score of 4).
The mean percentages of time in optimal sedation were 88.3% for remifentanil and 89.3% for fentanyl (not significant). Patients with a Sedation–Agitation Scale score of 4 exhibited significantly less between-patient variability in optimal sedation on remifentanil (variance ratio of fentanyl to remifentanil 1.84; P = 0.009). Of patients who received fentanyl 40% required propofol, as compared with 35% of those who received remifentanil (median total doses 683 mg and 378 mg, respectively; P = 0.065). Recovery was rapid (median time to extubation: 1.1 hours for remifentanil and 1.3 hours for fentanyl; not significant). Remifentanil patients who experienced pain did so for significantly longer during extubation (6.5% of the time versus 1.4%; P = 0.013), postextubation (10.2% versus 3.6%; P = 0.001) and post-treatment (13.5% versus 5.1%; P = 0.001), but they exhibited similar haemodynamic stability with no significant differences in adverse event incidence.
Analgesia based sedation with remifentanil titrated to response provided effective sedation and rapid extubation without the need for propofol in most patients. Fentanyl was similar, probably because the dosing algorithm demanded frequent monitoring and adjustment, thereby preventing over-sedation. Rapid offset of analgesia with remifentanil resulted in a greater incidence of pain, highlighting the need for proactive pain management when transitioning to longer acting analgesics, which is difficult within a double-blind study but would be quite possible under normal circumstances.
PMCID: PMC420059  PMID: 14975049
analgesia; analgesia based sedation; critical care; fentanyl; propofol; remifentanil; renal function; sedation
7.  Dexmedetomidine versus standard care sedation with propofol or midazolam in intensive care: an economic evaluation 
Critical Care  2015;19(1):67.
Dexmedetomidine was shown in two European randomized double-blind double-dummy trials (PRODEX and MIDEX) to be non-inferior to propofol and midazolam in maintaining target sedation levels in mechanically ventilated intensive care unit (ICU) patients. Additionally, dexmedetomidine shortened the time to extubation versus both standard sedatives, suggesting that it may reduce ICU resource needs and thus lower ICU costs. Considering resource utilization data from these two trials, we performed a secondary, cost-minimization analysis assessing the economics of dexmedetomidine versus standard care sedation.
The total ICU costs associated with each study sedative were calculated on the basis of total study sedative consumption and the number of days patients remained intubated, required non-invasive ventilation, or required ICU care without mechanical ventilation. The daily unit costs for these three consecutive ICU periods were set to decline toward discharge, reflecting the observed reduction in mean daily Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System (TISS) points between the periods. A number of additional sensitivity analyses were performed, including one in which the total ICU costs were based on the cumulative sum of daily TISS points over the ICU period, and two further scenarios, with declining direct variable daily costs only.
Based on pooled data from both trials, sedation with dexmedetomidine resulted in lower total ICU costs than using the standard sedatives, with a difference of €2,656 in the median (interquartile range) total ICU costs—€11,864 (€7,070 to €23,457) versus €14,520 (€7,871 to €26,254)—and €1,649 in the mean total ICU costs. The median (mean) total ICU costs with dexmedetomidine compared with those of propofol or midazolam were €1,292 (€747) and €3,573 (€2,536) lower, respectively. The result was robust, indicating lower costs with dexmedetomidine in all sensitivity analyses, including those in which only direct variable ICU costs were considered. The likelihood of dexmedetomidine resulting in lower total ICU costs compared with pooled standard care was 91.0% (72.4% versus propofol and 98.0% versus midazolam).
From an economic point of view, dexmedetomidine appears to be a preferable option compared with standard sedatives for providing light to moderate ICU sedation exceeding 24 hours. The savings potential results primarily from shorter time to extubation.
Trial registration NCT00479661 (PRODEX), NCT00481312 (MIDEX).
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-015-0787-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4391080  PMID: 25887576
8.  Midazolam and propofol used alone or sequentially for long-term sedation in critically ill, mechanically ventilated patients: a prospective, randomized study 
Critical Care  2014;18(3):R122.
Midazolam and propofol used alone for long-term sedation are associated with adverse effects. Sequential use may reduce the adverse effects, and lead to faster recovery, earlier extubation and lower costs. This study evaluates the effects, safety, and cost of midazolam, propofol, and their sequential use for long-term sedation in critically ill mechanically ventilated patients.
A total of 135 patients who required mechanical ventilation for >3 days were randomly assigned to receive midazolam (group M), propofol (group P), or sequential use of both (group M-P). In group M-P, midazolam was switched to propofol until the patients passed the spontaneous breathing trial (SBT) safety screen. The primary endpoints included recovery time, extubation time and mechanical ventilation time. The secondary endpoints were pharmaceutical cost, total cost of ICU stay, and recollection to mechanical ventilation-related events.
The incidence of agitation following cessation of sedation in group M-P was lower than group M (19.4% versus 48.7%, P = 0.01). The mean percentage of adequate sedation and duration of sedation were similar in the three groups. The recovery time, extubation time and mechanical ventilation time of group M were 58.0 (interquartile range (IQR), 39.0) hours, 45.0 (IQR, 24.5) hours, and 192.0 (IQR, 124.0) hours, respectively; these were significantly longer than the other groups, while they were similar between the other two groups. In the treatment-received analysis, ICU duration was longer in group M than group M-P (P = 0.016). Using an intention-to-treat analysis and a treatment-received analysis, respectively, the pharmaceutical cost of group M-P was lower than group P (P <0.01) and its ICU cost was lower than group M (P <0.01; P = 0.015). The proportion of group M-P with unbearable memory of the uncomfortable events was lower than in group M (11.7% versus 25.0%, P <0.01), while the proportion with no memory was similar (P >0.05). The incidence of hypotension in group M-P was lower than group (P = 0.01).
Sequential use of midazolam and propofol was a safe and effective sedation protocol, with higher clinical effectiveness and better cost-benefit ratio than midazolam or propofol used alone, for long-term sedation of critically ill mechanically ventilated patients.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN01173443. Registered 25 February 2014.
PMCID: PMC4095601  PMID: 24935517
9.  Improved Analgesia, Sedation, and Delirium Protocol Associated with Decreased Duration of Delirium and Mechanical Ventilation 
Rationale: Introduction of sedation protocols has been associated with improved patient outcomes. It is not known if an update to an existing high-quality sedation protocol, featuring increased patient assessment and reduced benzodiazepine exposure, is associated with improved patient process and outcome quality metrics.
Methods: This was an observational before (n = 703) and after (n = 780) cohort study of mechanically ventilated patients in a 24-bed trauma-surgical intensive care unit (ICU) from 2009 to 2011. The three main protocol updates were: (1) requirement to document Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale (RASS) scores every 4 hours, (2) requirement to document Confusion Assessment Method-ICU (CAM ICU) twice daily, and (3) systematic, protocolized deescalation of excess sedation. Multivariable linear regression was used for the primary analysis. The primary outcome was the duration of mechanical ventilation. Prespecified secondary endpoints included days of delirium; the frequency of patient assessment with the RASS and CAM-ICU instruments; benzodiazepine dosing; durations of mechanical ventilation, ICU stay, and hospitalization; and hospital mortality and ventilator associated pneumonia rate.
Results: Patients in the updated protocol cohort had 1.22 more RASS assessments per day (5.38 vs. 4.16; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05–1.39; P < 0.01) and 1.15 more CAM-ICU assessments per day (1.49 vs. 0.35; 95% CI, 1.08–1.21; P < 0.01) than the baseline cohort. The mean hourly benzodiazepine dose decreased by 34.8% (0.08 mg lorazepam equivalents/h; 0.15 vs. 0.23; P < 0.01). In the multivariable model, the median duration of mechanical ventilation decreased by 17.6% (95% CI, 0.6–31.7%; P = 0.04). The overall odds ratio of delirium was 0.67 (95% CI, 0.49–0.91; P = 0.01) comparing updated versus baseline cohort. A 12.4% reduction in median duration of ICU stay (95% CI, 0.5–22.8%; P = 0.04) and a 14.0% reduction in median duration of hospitalization (95% CI, 2.0–24.5%; P = 0.02) were also seen. No significant association with mortality (odds ratio, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.80–1.76; P = 0.40) was seen.
Conclusions: Implementation of an updated ICU analgesia, sedation, and delirium protocol was associated with an increase in RASS and CAM-ICU assessment and documentation; reduced hourly benzodiazepine dose; and decreased delirium and median durations of mechanical ventilation, ICU stay, and hospitalization.
PMCID: PMC4028734  PMID: 24597599
critical care; protocol; delirium; quality improvement
10.  Dexmedetomidine use in the ICU: Are we there yet? 
Critical Care  2013;17(3):320.
Expanded abstract
Jakob SM, Ruokonen E, Grounds RM, Sarapohja T, Garratt C, Pocock SJ, Bratty JR, Takala J; Dexmedeto midine for Long-Term Sedation Investigators: Dexmedetomidine vesus midazolam or propofol for sedation during prolonged mechanical ventilation: two randomized controlled trials. JAMA 2012, 307:1151-1160.
Long-term sedation with midazolam or propofol in intensive care units (ICUs) has serious adverse effects. Dexmedetomidine, an alpha-2 agonist available for ICU sedation, may reduce the duration of mechanical ventilation and enhance patient comfort.
The objective was to determine the efficacy of dexmedetomidine versus midazolam or propofol (preferred usual care) in maintaining sedation, reducing duration of mechanical ventilation, and improving patients' interaction with nursing care.
Two phase 3 multicenter, randomized, double-blind trials were conducted.
The MIDEX (Midazolam vs. Dexmedetomidine) trial compared midazolam with dexmedetomidine in ICUs of 44 centers in nine European countries. The PRODEX (Propofol vs. Dexmedetomidine) trial compared propofol with dexmedetomidine in 31 centers in six European countries and two centers in Russia.
The subjects were adult ICU patients who were receiving mechanical ventilation and who needed light to moderate sedation for more than 24 hours.
After enrollment, 251 and 249 subjects were randomly assigned midazolam and dexmedetomidine, respectively, in the MIDEX trial, and 247 and 251 subjects were randomly assigned propofol and dexmedetomidine, respectively, in the PRODEX trial. Sedation with dexmedetomidine, midazolam, or propofol; daily sedation stops; and spontaneous breathing trials were employed.
For each trial, investigators tested whether dexmedetomidine was noninferior to control with respect to proportion of time at target sedation level (measured by Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale) and superior to control with respect to duration of mechanical ventilation. Secondary end points were the ability of the patient to communicate pain (measured by using a visual analogue scale [VAS]) and length of ICU stay. Time at target sedation was analyzed in per-protocol (midazolam, n = 233, versus dexmedetomidine, n = 227; propofol, n = 214, versus dexmedetomidine, n = 223) population.
Dexmedetomidine/midazolam ratio in time at target sedation was 1.07 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.97 to 1.18), and dexmedetomidine/propofol ratio in time at target sedation was 1.00 (95% CI 0.92 to 1.08). Median duration of mechanical ventilation appeared shorter with dexmedetomidine (123 hours, interquartile range (IQR) 67 to 337) versus midazolam (164 hours, IQR 92 to 380; P = 0.03) but not with dexmedetomidine (97 hours, IQR 45 to 257) versus propofol (118 hours, IQR 48 to 327; P = 0.24). Patient interaction (measured by using VAS) was improved with dexmedetomidine (estimated score difference versus midazolam 19.7, 95% CI 15.2 to 24.2; P <0.001; and versus propofol 11.2, 95% CI 6.4 to 15.9; P <0.001). Lengths of ICU and hospital stays and mortality rates were similar. Dexmedetomidine versus midazolam patients had more hypotension (51/247 [20.6%] versus 29/250 [11.6%]; P = 0.007) and bradycardia (35/247 [14.2%] versus 13/250 [5.2%]; P <0.001).
Among ICU patients receiving prolonged mechanical ventilation, dexmedetomidine was not inferior to midazolam and propofol in maintaining light to moderate sedation. Dexmedetomidine reduced duration of mechanical ventilation compared with midazolam and improved the ability of patients to communicate pain compared with midazolam and propofol. Greater numbers of adverse effects were associated with dexmedetomidine.
PMCID: PMC3706806  PMID: 23731973
11.  Economic Evaluation of Dexmedetomidine Relative to Midazolam for Sedation in the Intensive Care Unit 
Dexmedetomidine is an α2-receptor agonist administered by continuous infusion in the intensive care unit (ICU) for sedation of critically ill patients who are undergoing mechanical ventilation following intubation. Relative to ICU patients receiving midazolam (a γ-aminobutyric acid agonist) for sedation, those receiving dexmedetomidine spent less time on ventilation, had fewer episodes of delirium, and had a lower incidence of tachycardia and hypertension.
To assess the economic impact, in a Canadian context, of dexmedetomidine, relative to midazolam, for sedation in the ICU.
This economic evaluation was based on a cost–consequences analysis, from the perspective of the Canadian health care system. The selected time horizon was an ICU stay (maximum 30 days). Clinical data were obtained from a previously published prospective, randomized, double-blind trial comparing dexmedetomidine and midazolam. This evaluation considered the costs of the medications, mechanical ventilation, and delirium episodes, as well as costs associated with adverse events requiring an intervention. All costs were adjusted to 2010 and are reported in Canadian dollars.
The average cost of the medication was higher for dexmedetomidine than midazolam ($1929.57 versus $180.10 per patient), but the average costs associated with mechanical ventilation and management of delirium were lower with dexmedetomidine than with midazolam ($2939 versus $4448 for ventilation; $2127 versus $3012 for delirium). The overall cost per patient was lower with dexmedetomidine than with midazolam ($7022 versus $7680). Deterministic sensitivity analysis confirmed the robustness of the difference.
The use of dexmedetomidine was, in most contexts, a more favourable strategy than the use of midazolam, in terms of clinical consequences and economic impact. Dexmedetomidine was less expensive than midazolam and was associated with lower occurrence of delirium and shorter duration of mechanical ventilation.
PMCID: PMC3329902  PMID: 22529402
dexmedetomidine; sedation; intensive care unit; economic evaluation; dexmédétomidine; sédation; unité de soins intensifs; évaluation économique
12.  Respiratory effects of dexmedetomidine in the surgical patient requiring intensive care 
Critical Care  2000;4(5):302-308.
The respiratory effects of dexmedetomidine were retrospectively examined in 33 postsurgical patients involved in a randomised, placebo-controlled trial after extubation in the intensive care unit (ICU). Morphine requirements were reduced by over 50% in patients receiving dexmedetomidine. There were no differences in respiratory rates, oxygen saturations, arterial pH and arterial partial carbon dioxide tension (PaCO2) between the groups. Interestingly the arterial partial oxygen tension (PaO2) : fractional inspired oxygen (FIO2) ratios were statistically significantly higher in the dexmedetomidine group. Dexmedetomidine provides important postsurgical analgesia and appears to have no clinically important adverse effects on respiration in the surgical patient who requires intensive care.
The α2-agonist dexmedetomidine is a new class of sedative drug that is being investigated for use in ICU settings. It is an effective agent for the management of sedation and analgesia after cardiac, general, orthopaedic, head and neck, oncological and vascular surgery in the ICU [1]. Cardiovascular stability was demonstrated, with significant reductions in rate-pressure product during sedation and over the extubation period.
Dexmedetomidine possesses several properties that may additionally benefit those critically ill patients who require sedation. In spontaneously breathing volunteers, intravenous dexmedetomidine caused marked sedation with only mild reductions in resting ventilation at higher doses [2]. Dexmedetomidine reduces the haemodynamic response to intubation and extubation [3,4,5] and attenuates the stress response to surgery [6], as a result of the α2-mediated reduction in sympathetic tone. Therefore, it should be possible to continue sedation with dexmedetomidine over the stressful extubation period without concerns over respiratory depression, while ensuring that haemodynamic stability is preserved.
The present study is a retrospective analysis of the respiratory response to dexmedetomidine in 33 postsurgical patients (who were involved in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial [1]) after extubation in the ICU.
Patients who participated in the present study were admitted after surgery to our general or cardiothoracic ICUs, and were expected to receive at least 6 h of postsurgical sedation and artificial ventilation.
On arrival in the ICU after surgery, patients were randomized to receive either dexmedetomidine or placebo (normal saline) with rescue sedation and analgesia being provided, only if clinically needed, with midazolam and morphine boluses, respectively. Sedation was titrated to maintain a Ramsay Sedation Score [7] of 3 or greater while the patients were intubated, and infusions of study drug were continued for a maximum of 6 h after extubation to achieve a Ramsay Sedation Score of 2 or greater.
The patients were intubated and ventilated with oxygen-enriched air to attain acceptable arterial blood gases, and extubation occurred when clinically indicated. All patients received supplemental oxygen after extubation, which was delivered by a fixed performance device. Assessment of pain was by direct communication with the patient.
Results are expressed as mean ± standard deviation unless otherwise stated. Patient characteristics, operative details and morphine usage were analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U-test. Statistical differences for respiratory measurements between the two groups were determined using analysis of variance for repeated measures, with the Bonferroni test for post hoc comparisons.
Of the 40 patients who participated in the study, seven patients could not be included in the analysis of respiratory function because they did not receive a study drug infusion after extubation. Consequently, data from 33 patients are used in the analysis of respiratory function; 16 received dexmedetomidine and 17 placebo. Inadequate arterial blood gas analysis was available in five patients (two from the dexmedetomidine group, and three from the placebo group). There were no significant differences in patient characteristics and operative details between the groups.
Requirements for morphine were reduced by more than 50% in patients receiving dexmedetomidine when compared with placebo after extubation (0.003 ± 0.004 vs 0.008 ± 0.006 mg/kg per h; P= 0.040).
There were no statistically significant differences between placebo and dexmedetomidine for oxygen saturations measured by pulse oximetry (P= 0.26), respiratory rate (P= 0.16; Fig. 1), arterial pH (P= 0.77) and PaCO2 (P= 0.75; Fig. 2) for the 6 h after extubation.
The dexmedetomidine group showed significantly higher PaO2: FIO2 ratios throughout the 6-h intubation (P= 0.036) and extubation (P= 0.037) periods (Fig. 3). There were no adverse respiratory events seen in either the dexmedetomidine or placebo group.
Respiratory rate for the 6-h periods before and after extubation. (Filled circle) Dexmedetomidine; (Empty circle) placebo. Values are expressed as mean ± standard deviation.
PaCO2 (PCO2) for the 6-h periods before and after extubation, and baseline values (B) on admission to ICU immediately after surgery. (Filled circle) Dexmedetomidine; (Empty circle) placebo. Values are expressed as mean ± standard deviation.
PaO2 : FIO2 ratio for the 6-h periods before and after extubation, and baseline values (B) on admission to ICU immediately after surgery. (Filled circle) Dexmedetomidine; (Empty circle) placebo. Values are expressed as mean ± standard deviation.
Lack of respiratory depression in patients sedated with α2-adrenoceptor agonists was first reported by Maxwell [8] in a study investigating the respiratory effects of clonidine. However, more recent data suggests that clonidine may cause mild respiratory depression in humans [9], and α2-adrenoceptor agonists are well known to produce profound intraoperative hypoxaemia in sheep [10,11]. The effects of dexmedetomidine on other ventilation parameters also appear to be species specific [12].
Belleville et al [2] investigated the ventilatory effects of a 2-min intravenous infusion of dexmedetomidine on human volunteers. According to those investigators, minute ventilation and arterial PaCO2 were mildly decreased and increased, respectively. There was a rightward shift and depression of the hypercapnic response with infusions of 1.0 and 2.0 μg/kg.
Previous studies that investigated the respiratory effects of dexmedetomidine have only been performed in healthy human volunteers, who have received either single intramuscular injections or short (= 10 min) intravenous infusions of dexmedetomidine. It is therefore reassuring that no deleterious clinical effects on respiration and gas exchange were seen in the patients we studied, who were receiving long-term infusions. However, there are important limitations to the present results. No dose/response curve for dexmedetomidine can be formulated from the data, and further investigation is probably ethically difficult to achieve in the spontaneously ventilating intensive care patient. We also have no data on the ventilatory responses to hypercapnia and hypoxia, which would also be difficult to examine practically and ethically. The placebo group received more than twice as much morphine as patients receiving dexmedetomidine infusions after extubation, but there were no differences in respiratory rate or PaCO2 between the groups. We can not therefore determine from this study whether dexmedetomidine has any benefits over morphine from a respiratory perspective.
There were no differences in oxygen saturations between the groups because the administered oxygen concentration was adjusted to maintain satisfactory gas exchange. Interestingly, however, there were statistically significant higher PaO2 : FIO2 ratios in the dexmedetomidine group. This ratio allows for the variation in administered oxygen to patients during the study period, and gives some clinical indication of alveolar gas exchange. However, this variable was not a primary outcome variable for the present study, and may represent a type 1 error, although post hoc analysis reveals that the data have 80% power to detect a significant difference (α value 0.05). Further studies are obviously required.
Sedation continued over the extubation period, has been shown to reduce haemodynamic disturbances and myocardial ischaemia [13]. We have previously shown [1] that dexmedetomidine provides cardiovascular stability, with a reduction in rate-pressure product over the extubation period. A sedative agent that has analgesic properties, minimal effects on respiration and offers ischaemia protection would have enormous potential in the ICU. Dexmedetomidine may fulfill all of these roles, but at present we can only conclude that dexmedetomidine has no deleterious clinical effects on respiration when used in doses that are sufficient to provide adequate sedation and effective analgesia in the surgical population requiring intensive care.
PMCID: PMC29047  PMID: 11056756
α2-Adrenoceptor agonist; analgesia; dexmedetomidine; intensive care; postoperative; respiratory; sedation
13.  Ketamine, propofol and low dose remifentanil versus propofol and remifentanil for ERCP outside the operating room: Is ketamine not only a “rescue drug”? 
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography ERCP is a painful and long procedure requiring transient deep analgesia and conscious sedation. An ideal anaesthetic that guarantees a rapid and smooth induction, good quality of maintenance, lack of adverse effects and rapid recovery is still lacking.
This study aimed to compare safety and efficacy of a continuous infusion of low dose remifentanil plus ketamine combined with propofol in comparison to the standard regimen dose of remifentanil plus propofol continuous infusion during ERCP.
322 ASAI-III patients, 18–85 years old and scheduled for planned ERCP were randomized. Exclusion criteria were a predictable difficult airway, drug allergy, and ASA IV–V patients.
We evaluated Propofol 1 mg/kg/h plus Remifentanil 0.25 μg/kg/min (GR) vs. Propofol 1 mg/kg/h plus Ketamine 5 μg/kg/min and Remifentanil 0.1 μg/kg/min (GK).
Main outcome measures were respiratory depression, nausea/vomiting, quality of intraoperative conditions, and discharge time. P≤0.05 was statistically significant (95% CI).
Respiratory depression was observed in 25 patients in the GR group compared to 9 patients in the GK group (p=0.0035). ERCP was interrupted in 9 cases of GR vs. no cases in GK; patients ventilated without any complication. Mean discharge time was 20±5 min in GK and 35±6 min in GR (p=0.0078) and transfer to the ward delayed because of nausea and vomiting in 30 patients in GR vs. 5 patients in GK (p=0.0024). Quality of intraoperative conditions was rated highly satisfactory in 92% of GK vs. 67% of GR (p=0.028).
The drug combination used in GK confers clinical advantages because it avoids deep sedation, maintains adequate analgesia with conscious sedation, and achieves lower incidence of postprocedural nausea and vomiting with shorter discharge times.
PMCID: PMC3560648  PMID: 22936194
conscious sedation for ERCP; ketamine; sedation outside the operating room
14.  Remifentanil for analgesia-based sedation in the intensive care unit 
Critical Care  2003;8(1):13-14.
Providing effective analgesia and adequate sedation is a generally accepted goal of intensive care medicine. Due to its rapid, organ independent and predictable metabolism the short acting opioid remifentanil might be particularly useful for analgesia-based sedation in the intensive care unit (ICU). This hypothesis was tested by two studies in this issue of Critical Care. The study by Breen et al. shows that remifentanil does not exert prolonged clinical effects when continuously infused in renal failure patients, although the weak acting metabolite remifentanil acid accumulates. The study by Muellejans et al. reports a multicenter trial comparing a remifentanil versus a fentanyl based regimen in ICU patients. With both substances a target analgesia and sedation level was reached, and no major differences were found when frequent assessments of the sedation level and according readjustments of doses were performed. These results are in accordance with other studies suggesting that the adherence to a clear analgesia-based sedation protocol might be more important then the choice of medications itself.
PMCID: PMC420067  PMID: 14975040
analgesia; sedation; remifentanil; organ failure
15.  Sedative Efficacy of Propofol in Patients Intubated/Ventilated after Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery 
Sedation after open heart surgery is important in preventing stress on the heart. The unique sedative features of propofol prompted us to evaluate its potential clinical role in the sedation of post-CABG patients.
To compare propofol-based sedation to midazolam-based sedation after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Patients and Methods:
Fifty patients who were admitted to the ICU after CABG surgery was randomized into two groups to receive sedation with either midazolam or propofol infusions; and additional analgesia was administered if required. Inclusion criteria were as follows: patients 40-60 years old, hemodynamic stability, ejection fraction (EF) more than 40%; exclusion criteria included patients who required intra-aortic balloon pump or inotropic drugs post-bypass. The same protocol of anesthetic medications was used in both groups. Depth of sedation was monitored using the Ramsay sedation score (RSS). Invasive mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate (HR), arterial blood gas (ABG) and ventilatory parameters were monitored continuously after the start of study drug and until the patients were extubated.
The depth of sedation was almost the same in the two groups (RSS=4.5 in midazolam group vs 4.7 in propofol group; P = 0.259) but the total dose of fentanyl in the midazolam group was significantly more than the propofol group (12.5 mg/hr vs 4 mg/hr) (P = 0.0039). No significant differences were found in MAP (P = 0.51) and HR (P = 0.41) between the groups. The mean extubation time in patients sedated with propofol was shorter than those sedated with midazolam (102 ± 27 min vs 245 ± 42 min, respectively; P < 0.05) but the ICU discharge time was not shorter (47.5 hr vs 36.3 hr, respectively; P = 0.24).
Propofol provided a safe and acceptable sedation for post-CABG surgical patients, significantly reduced the requirement for analgesics, and allowed for more rapid tracheal extubation than midazolam but did not result in earlier ICU discharge.
PMCID: PMC3961039  PMID: 24660162
Propofol; Analgesics; Coronary Artery Bypass; Deep Sedation; Midazolam; Airway Extubation; Length of Stay
16.  Comparison of Propofol-Remifentanil Versus Propofol-Ketamine Deep Sedation for Third Molar Surgery 
Anesthesia Progress  2012;59(3):107-117.
This study aimed to compare continuous intravenous infusion combinations of propofol-remifentanil and propofol-ketamine for deep sedation for surgical extraction of all 4 third molars. In a prospective, randomized, double-blinded controlled study, participants received 1 of 2 sedative combinations for deep sedation for the surgery. Both groups initially received midazolam 0.03 mg/kg for baseline sedation. The control group then received a combination of propofol-remifentanil in a ratio of 10 mg propofol to 5 μg of remifentanil per milliliter, and the experimental group received a combination of propofol-ketamine in a ratio of 10 mg of propofol to 2.5 mg of ketamine per milliliter; both were given at an initial propofol infusion rate of 100 μg/kg/min. Each group received an induction loading bolus of 500 μg/kg of the assigned propofol combination along with the appropriate continuous infusion combination . Measured outcomes included emergence and recovery times, various sedation parameters, hemodynamic and respiratory stability, patient and surgeon satisfaction, postoperative course, and associated drug costs. Thirty-seven participants were enrolled in the study. Both groups demonstrated similar sedation parameters and hemodynamic and respiratory stability; however, the ketamine group had prolonged emergence (13.6 ± 6.6 versus 7.1 ± 3.7 minutes, P = .0009) and recovery (42.9 ± 18.7 versus 24.7 ± 7.6 minutes, P = .0004) times. The prolonged recovery profile of continuously infused propofol-ketamine may limit its effectiveness as an alternative to propofol-remifentanil for deep sedation for third molar extraction and perhaps other short oral surgical procedures, especially in the ambulatory dental setting.
PMCID: PMC3468288  PMID: 23050750
Propofol; Ketamine; Remifentanil; Deep sedation; TIVA
17.  Remifentanil discontinuation and subsequent intensive care unit-acquired infection: a cohort study 
Critical Care  2009;13(2):R60.
Recent animal studies demonstrated immunosuppressive effects of opioid withdrawal resulting in a higher risk of infection. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of remifentanil discontinuation on intensive care unit (ICU)-acquired infection.
This was a prospective observational cohort study performed in a 30-bed medical and surgical university ICU, during a one-year period. All patients hospitalised in the ICU for more than 48 hours were eligible. Sedation was based on a written protocol including remifentanil with or without midazolam. Ramsay score was used to evaluate consciousness. The bedside nurse adjusted sedative infusion to obtain the target Ramsay score. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to determine risk factors for ICU-acquired infection.
Five hundred and eighty-seven consecutive patients were included in the study. A microbiologically confirmed ICU-acquired infection was diagnosed in 233 (39%) patients. Incidence rate of ICU-acquired infection was 38 per 1000 ICU-days. Ventilator-associated pneumonia was the most frequently diagnosed ICU-acquired infection (23% of study patients). Pseudomonas aeruginosa was the most frequently isolated microorganism (30%). Multivariate analysis identified remifentanil discontinuation (odds ratio (OR) = 2.53, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.28 to 4.99, P = 0.007), simplified acute physiology score II at ICU admission (1.01 per point, 95% CI = 1 to 1.03, P = 0.011), mechanical ventilation (4.49, 95% CI = 1.52 to 13.2, P = 0.006), tracheostomy (2.25, 95% CI = 1.13 to 4.48, P = 0.021), central venous catheter (2.9, 95% CI = 1.08 to 7.74, P = 0.033) and length of hospital stay (1.05 per day, 95% CI = 1.03 to 1.08, P < 0.001) as independent risk factors for ICU-acquired infection.
Remifentanil discontinuation is independently associated with ICU-acquired infection.
PMCID: PMC2689508  PMID: 19383164
18.  An Economic Evaluation of Propofol and Lorazepam for Critically Ill Patients Undergoing Mechanical Ventilation 
Critical care medicine  2008;36(3):706-714.
The economic implications of sedative choice in the management of patients receiving mechanical ventilation are unclear because of differences in costs and clinical outcomes associated with specific sedatives. Therefore, we aimed to determine the cost-effectiveness of the most commonly used sedatives prescribed for mechanically ventilated critically ill patients.
Design, Setting, and Patients
Adopting the perspective of a hospital, we developed a probabilistic decision model to determine if continuous propofol or intermittent lorazepam was associated with greater value when combined with daily awakenings. We also evaluated the comparative value of continuous midazolam in secondary analyses. We assumed that patients were managed in a medical intensive care unit and expected to require ventilation for at least 48 hours. Model inputs were derived from primary analysis of randomized controlled trial data, medical literature, Medicare reimbursement rates, pharmacy databases, and institutional data.
Main Results
We measured cost-effectiveness as costs per mechanical ventilator-free day within the first 28 days after intubation. Our base-case probabilistic analysis demonstrated that propofol dominated lorazepam in 91% of simulations and, on average, was both $6,378 less costly per patient and associated with over three additional mechanical ventilator-free days. The model did not reveal clinically meaningful differences between propofol and midazolam on costs or measures of effectiveness.
Propofol has superior value compared to lorazepam when used for sedation among the critically ill who require mechanical ventilation when used in the setting of daily sedative interruption.
PMCID: PMC2763279  PMID: 18176312
cost-effectiveness; cost-benefit analysis (MeSH); critical illness (MeSH); respiration; artificial (MeSH)
19.  The dexmedetomidine concentration required after remifentanil anesthesia is three-fold higher than that after fentanyl anesthesia or that for general sedation in the ICU 
The general dexmedetomidine (DEX) concentration required for sedation of intensive care unit patients is considered to be approximately 0.7 ng/mL. However, higher DEX concentrations are considered to be required for sedation and/or pain management after major surgery using remifentanil. We determined the DEX concentration required after major surgery by using a target-controlled infusion (TCI) system for DEX.
Fourteen patients undergoing surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) were randomly, double-blindly assigned to two groups and underwent fentanyl- or remifentanil-based anesthetic management. DEX TCI was started at the time of closing the peritoneum and continued for 12 hours after stopping propofol administration (M0); DEX TCI was adjusted according to the sedation score and complaints of pain. The doses and concentrations of all anesthetics and postoperative conditions were investigated.
Throughout the observation period, the predicted plasma concentration of DEX in the fentanyl group was stable at approximately 0.7 ng/mL. In contrast, the predicted plasma concentration of DEX in the remifentanil group rapidly increased and stabilized at approximately 2 ng/mL. The actual DEX concentration at 540 minutes after M0 showed a similar trend (0.54±0.14 [fentanyl] versus 1.57±0.39 ng/mL [remifentanil]). In the remifentanil group, the dopamine dose required and the duration of intubation decreased, and urine output increased; however, no other outcomes improved.
The DEX concentration required after AAA surgery with remifentanil was three-fold higher than that required after AAA surgery with fentanyl or the conventional DEX concentration for sedation. High DEX concentration after remifentanil affords some benefits in anesthetic management.
PMCID: PMC4199560  PMID: 25328395
plasma concentration; effect-site concentration (ESC); target-controlled infusion (TCI); abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA); dopamine; urine output
20.  Prevalence and impact of alcohol and other drug use disorders on sedation and mechanical ventilation: a retrospective study 
BMC Anesthesiology  2007;7:3.
Experience suggests that patients with alcohol and other drug use disorders (AOD) are commonly cared for in our intensive care units (ICU's) and require more sedation. We sought to determine the impact of AOD on sedation requirement and mechanical ventilation (MV) duration.
Retrospective review of randomly selected records of adult patients undergoing MV in the medical ICU. Diagnoses of AOD were identified using strict criteria in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and through review of medical records and toxicology results.
Of the 70 MV patients reviewed, 27 had AOD (39%). Implicated substances were alcohol in 22 patients, cocaine in 5, heroin in 2, opioids in 2, marijuana in 2. There was no difference between AOD and non-AOD patients in age, race, or reason for MV, but patients with AOD were more likely to be male (21 versus 15, p < 0.0001) and had a lower mean Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II (22 versus 26, p = 0.048). While AOD patients received more lorazepam equivalents (0.5 versus 0.2 mg/, p = 0.004), morphine equivalents (0.5 versus 0.1 mg/, p = 0.03) and longer duration of infusions (16 versus 10 hours/day. medication, p = 0.002), they had similar sedation levels (Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale (RASS) -2 versus -2, p = 0.83), incidence of agitation (RASS ≥ 3: 3.0% versus 2.4% of observations, p = 0.33), and duration of MV (3.6 versus 3.9 days, p = 0.89) as those without AOD.
The prevalence of AOD among medical ICU patients undergoing MV is high. Patients with AOD receive higher doses of sedation than their non-AOD counterparts to achieve similar RASS scores but do not undergo longer duration of MV.
PMCID: PMC1838409  PMID: 17359534
21.  Remifentanil patient controlled analgesia versus epidural analgesia in labour. A multicentre randomized controlled trial 
Pain relief during labour is a topic of major interest in the Netherlands. Epidural analgesia is considered to be the most effective method of pain relief and recommended as first choice. However its uptake by pregnant women is limited compared to other western countries, partly as a result of non-availability due to logistic problems. Remifentanil, a synthetic opioid, is very suitable for patient controlled analgesia. Recent studies show that epidural analgesia is superior to remifentanil patient controlled analgesia in terms of pain intensity score; however there was no difference in satisfaction with pain relief between both treatments.
The proposed study is a multicentre randomized controlled study that assesses the cost-effectiveness of remifentanil patient controlled analgesia compared to epidural analgesia. We hypothesize that remifentanil patient controlled analgesia is as effective in improving pain appreciation scores as epidural analgesia, with lower costs and easier achievement of 24 hours availability of pain relief for women in labour and efficient pain relief for those with a contraindication for epidural analgesia.
Eligible women will be informed about the study and randomized before active labour has started. Women will be randomly allocated to a strategy based on epidural analgesia or on remifentanil patient controlled analgesia when they request pain relief during labour. Primary outcome is the pain appreciation score, i.e. satisfaction with pain relief.
Secondary outcome parameters are costs, patient satisfaction, pain scores (pain-intensity), mode of delivery and maternal and neonatal side effects.
The economic analysis will be performed from a short-term healthcare perspective. For both strategies the cost of perinatal care for mother and child, starting at the onset of labour and ending ten days after delivery, will be registered and compared.
This study, considering cost effectiveness of remifentanil as first choice analgesia versus epidural analgesia, could strongly improve the care for 180.000 women, giving birth in the Netherlands yearly by giving them access to pain relief during labour, 24 hours a day.
Trial registration number
Dutch Trial Register NTR2551,
PMCID: PMC3464937  PMID: 22748068
Analgesia; Labour; Remifentanil; Patient controlled analgesia; Epidural
22.  Intensive care unit delirium is an independent predictor of longer hospital stay: a prospective analysis of 261 non-ventilated patients 
Critical Care  2005;9(4):R375-R381.
Delirium occurs in most ventilated patients and is independently associated with more deaths, longer stay, and higher cost. Guidelines recommend monitoring of delirium in all intensive care unit (ICU) patients, though few data exist in non-ventilated patients. The study objective was to determine the relationship between delirium and outcomes among non-ventilated ICU patients.
A prospective cohort investigation of 261 consecutively admitted medical ICU patients not requiring invasive mechanical ventilation during hospitalization at a tertiary-care, university-based hospital between February 2002 and January 2003. ICU nursing staff assessed delirium and level of consciousness at least twice per day using the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU (CAM-ICU) and Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale (RASS). Cox regression with time-varying covariates was used to determine the independent relationship between delirium and clinical outcomes.
Of 261 patients, 125 (48%) experienced at least one episode of delirium. Patients who experienced delirium were older (mean ± SD: 56 ± 18 versus 49 ± 17 years; p = 0.002) and more severely ill as measured by Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II (APACHE II) scores (median 15, interquartile range (IQR) 10–21 versus 11, IQR 6–16; p < 0.001) compared to their non-delirious counterparts. Patients who experienced delirium had a 29% greater risk of remaining in the ICU on any given day (compared to patients who never developed delirium) even after adjusting for age, gender, race, Charlson co-morbidity score, APACHE II score, and coma (hazard ratio (HR) 1.29; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98–1.69, p = 0.07). Similarly, patients who experienced delirium had a 41% greater risk of remaining in the hospital after adjusting for the same covariates (HR 1.41; 95% CI 1.05–1.89, p = 0.023). Hospital mortality was higher among patients who developed delirium (24/125, 19%) versus patients who never developed delirium (8/135, 6%), p = 0.002; however, time to in-hospital death was not significant the adjusted (HR 1.27; 95% CI 0.55–2.98, p = 0.58).
Delirium occurred in nearly half of the non-ventilated ICU patients in this cohort. Even after adjustment for relevant covariates, delirium was found to be an independent predictor of longer hospital stay.
PMCID: PMC1269454  PMID: 16137350
23.  Daily sedative interruption versus intermittent sedation in mechanically ventilated critically ill patients: a randomized trial 
Daily sedative interruption and intermittent sedation are effective in abbreviating the time on mechanical ventilation. Whether one is superior to the other has not yet been determined. Our aim was to compare daily interruption and intermittent sedation during the mechanical ventilation period in a low nurse staffing ICU.
Adult patients expected to need mechanical ventilation for more than 24 hours were randomly assigned, in a single center, either to daily interruption of continuous sedative and opioid infusion or to intermittent sedation. In both cases, our goal was to maintain a Sedation Agitation Scale (SAS) level of 3 or 4; that is patients should be calm, easily arousable or awakened with verbal stimuli or gentle shaking. Primary outcome was ventilator-free days in 28 days. Secondary outcomes were ICU and hospital mortality, incidence of delirium, nurse workload, self-extubation and psychological distress six months after ICU discharge.
A total of 60 patients were included. There were no differences in the ventilator-free days in 28 days between daily interruption and intermittent sedation (median: 24 versus 25 days, P = 0.160). There were also no differences in ICU mortality (40 versus 23.3%, P = 0.165), hospital mortality (43.3 versus 30%, P = 0.284), incidence of delirium (30 versus 40%, P = 0.472), self-extubation (3.3 versus 6.7%, P = 0.514), and psychological stress six months after ICU discharge. Also, the nurse workload was not different between groups, but it was reduced on day 5 compared to day 1 in both groups (Nurse Activity Score (NAS) in the intermittent sedation group was 54 on day 1 versus 39 on day 5, P < 0.001; NAS in daily interruption group was 53 on day 1 versus 38 on day 5, P < 0.001). Fentanyl and midazolam total dosages per patient were higher in the daily interruption group. The tidal volume was higher in the intermittent sedation group during the first five days of ICU stay.
There was no difference in the number of ventilator-free days in 28 days between both groups. Intermittent sedation was associated with lower sedative and opioid doses.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT00824239.
PMCID: PMC4026117  PMID: 24900938
Sedation; Mechanical ventilation; Conscious sedation; Critical care and outcome assessment
24.  Sedation depth and long-term mortality in mechanically ventilated critically ill adults: a prospective longitudinal multicentre cohort study 
Intensive Care Medicine  2013;39(5):910-918.
To ascertain the relationship among early (first 48 h) deep sedation, time to extubation, delirium and long-term mortality.
We conducted a multicentre prospective longitudinal cohort study in 11 Malaysian hospitals including medical/surgical patients (n = 259) who were sedated and ventilated ≥24 h. Patients were followed from ICU admission up to 28 days in ICU with 4-hourly sedation and daily delirium assessments and 180-day mortality. Deep sedation was defined as Richmond Agitation Sedation Score (RASS) ≤−3.
The cohort had a mean (SD) age of 53.1 (15.9) years and APACHE II score of 21.3 (8.2) with hospital and 180-day mortality of 82 (31.7 %) and 110/237 (46.4 %). Patients were followed for 2,657 ICU days and underwent 13,836 RASS assessments. Midazolam prescription was predominant compared to propofol, given to 241 (93 %) versus 72 (28 %) patients (P < 0.0001) for 966 (39.6 %) versus 183 (7.5 %) study days respectively. Deep sedation occurred in (182/257) 71 % patients at first assessment and in 159 (61 %) patients and 1,658 (59 %) of all RASS assessments at 48 h. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression analysis adjusting for a priori assigned covariates including sedative agents, diagnosis, age, APACHE II score, operative, elective, vasopressors and dialysis showed that early deep sedation was independently associated with longer time to extubation [hazard ratio (HR) 0.93, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.89–0.97, P = 0.003], hospital death (HR 1.11, 95 % CI 1.05–1.18, P < 0.001) and 180-day mortality (HR 1.09, 95 % CI 1.04–1.15, P = 0.002), but not time to delirium (HR 0.98, P = 0.23). Delirium occurred in 114 (44 %) of patients.
Irrespective of sedative choice, early deep sedation was independently associated with delayed extubation and higher mortality, and thus was a potentially modifiable risk in interventional trials.
PMCID: PMC3625407  PMID: 23344834
Sedation depth; Mechanical ventilation; Delirium; Critically ill; Mortality
25.  A randomized controlled proof-of-concept trial of early sedation management using Responsiveness Index monitoring in mechanically ventilated critically ill patients 
Critical Care  2015;19(1):333.
Deep sedation is associated with adverse patient outcomes. We recently described a novel sedation-monitoring technology, the Responsiveness Index (RI), which quantifies patient arousal using processed frontal facial EMG data. We explored the potential effectiveness and safety of continuous RI monitoring during early intensive care unit (ICU) care as a nurse decision-support tool.
In a parallel-group controlled single centre proof of concept trial, patients requiring mechanical ventilation and sedation were randomized via sequential sealed envelopes following ICU admission. Control group patients received hourly clinical sedation assessment and daily sedation holds; the RI monitor was connected but data were concealed from clinical staff. The intervention group received control group care, but RI monitoring was visible and nurses were asked to adjust sedation to maintain patients with an RI>20 whenever possible. Traffic-light colour coding (RI<20, Red; 20–40, Amber; >40, Green) simplified decision-making. The intervention lasted up to 48 hours. Sixteen nurses were interviewed to explore their views of the novel technology.
We analysed 74 patients treated per protocol (36 intervention; 38 control). The proportion of patients with RI<20 was identical at the start of monitoring (54 % both groups). Overall, the proportion of time with RI<20 trended to lower values for the intervention group (median 16 % (1–3rd quartile 8–30 %) versus 33 % (10–54 %); P = 0.08); sedation and analgesic use was similar. A post hoc analysis restricted to patients with RI<20 when monitoring started, found intervention patients spent less time with low RI value (16 % (11–45 %) versus 51 % (33–72 %); P = 0.02), cumulative propofol use trended to lower values (median 1090 mg versus 2390 mg; P = 0.14), and cumulative alfentanil use was lower (21.2 mg versus 32.3 mg; P = 0.01). RASS scores were similar for both groups. Sedation related adverse event rates were similar (7/36 versus 5/38). Similar proportions of patients had sedation holds (83 % versus 87 %) and were extubated (47 % versus 44 %) during the intervention period. Nurses valued the objective visible data trends and simple colour prompts, and found RI monitoring a useful adjunct to existing practice.
RI monitoring was safe and acceptable. Data suggested potential to modify sedation decision-making. Larger trials are justified to explore effects on patient-centred outcomes.
Trial registration
NCT01361230 (registered April 19, 2010)
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-015-1043-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4570737  PMID: 26370687

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