Skip to main content

Characteristics of the use of dexmedetomidine in critically ill children: a Brazilian study


To describe the main indications, doses, infusion length and side effects of dexmedetomidine (DEX) administered to children and adolescents admitted to the pediatric ICU (PICU).


A retrospective observational study including children (<18 years) admitted to a Brazilian PICU who received DEX between November 2011 and June 2014. Demographic data, indications, initial dose, maximum dose and time of infusion of DEX, side effects and impact on heart rate (HR) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) 6 and 24 hours after the start of infusion.


A total of 77 children with a median age of 15 (4 to 84) months, weight of 10 (5.7 to 20) kg and length of ICU stay of 8 (5 to 14) days received DEX, with a mortality rate of 9%. Indications were: weaning from mechanical ventilation (32.5%), neurosurgical postoperative (NCI) and upper airway surgery (VAS) (24.7%), non-invasive ventilation (13%), refractory tachycardia (6.5%) and other indications (23.3%). There was no difference between the initial and maximum doses and infusion length. There was a significant decrease in MAP and HR after 6 hours infusion of DEX in the total group; however, no significant difference occurred between groups when analyzing MAP and HR 24 hours after the start of infusion (P = 0.798 and 0.379, one-way ANOVA, respectively). In six patients (8%) DEX was suspended for possible side effects.


Increased DEX indications have been observed in the pediatric population. In this study DEX was demonstrated to be a safe and tolerable drug with few side effects, especially related to the cardiovascular system.


  1. Pichot C, Ghignone M, Quintin L: Dexmedetomidine and clonidine: from second- to first-line sedative agents in the critical care setting?. J Intensive Care Med. 2012, 219-37. 27

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Afonso J RF: Dexmedetomidina: Papel Atual em Anestesia e Cuidados Intensivos. Rev Bras Anestesiol. 2012, 118-33. 62

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Panzer O, Moitra V, et al: Pharmacology of sedative-analgesic agents: dexmedetomidine, remifentanil, ketamine, volatile anesthetics, and the role of peripheral mu antagonists. Crit Care Clin. 2009, 451-69. 25

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Hsu CD CJ: Pharmacologic agents for pediatric procedural sedation outside of the operating room. UpToDate2014. [].

  5. Tobias JD: Dexmedetomidine: applications in pediatric critical care and pediatric anesthesiology. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2007, 115-31. 8

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lago, P., Andreolio, C., Piva, J. et al. Characteristics of the use of dexmedetomidine in critically ill children: a Brazilian study. Crit Care 19 (Suppl 1), P488 (2015).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Heart Rate
  • Mechanical Ventilation
  • Arterial Pressure
  • Mean Arterial Pressure
  • Pediatric Population