Dexmedetomidine is a potent and highly selective α2-adrenoreceptor agonist currently utilized for continuous infusion for sedation/analgesia in the intensive care unit (ICU). Dexmedetomidine offers remarkable pharmacological properties including sedation, anxiolysis, and analgesia with the unique characteristic to cause no respiratory depression. In addition it posses sympatholytic and antinociceptive effects that allow hemodynamic stability during surgical stimulation. Different from most of clinically used anesthetics, dexmedetomidine brings about not only a sedativehypnotic effect via an action on a single type of receptors, but also an analgesic effect and an autonomic blockade that is beneficial in cardiac risk situations. Several studies have demonstrated its safety, although bradycardia and hypotension are the most predictable and frequent side effects. Dexmedetomidine has shown to consistently reduce opioids, propofol, and benzodiazepines requirements. In the last years it has emerged as an affective therapeutic drug in a wide range of anesthetic management, promising large benefits in the perioperative use. In particular this review focuses on dexmedetomidine utilization in premedication, general surgery, neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, bariatric surgery, and for procedural sedation and awake fiberoptic intubation. In all these fields dexmedetomidine has demonstrated to be an efficacious and safe adjuvant to other sedative and anesthetic medications.
α2-Adrenoreceptor agonists, dexmedetomidine, sedation, anesthesia, perioperative use
Institute of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Largo F. Vito 1, 00013 Rome, Italy.