ICU Sedation: Dexmedetomidine
What is dexmedetomidine?
Dexmedetomidine (Precedex® ) works in the
brain to cause sedation (sleepiness,
drowsiness) and decrease anxiety. It has a
calming effect and makes the patient feel
more comfortable especially when they are
on the breathing machine.
Why is dexmedetomidine important?
Patients in an intensive care unit, especially
ones who require a breathing machine
(mechanical ventilator) to help their
breathing, may be anxious and
uncomfortable. Dexmedetomidine can help
decrease their anxiety and make them more
comfortable. This will help make them
breathe more easily while on the ventilator.
How will the patient look or feel on
The patient will look very relaxed and may
look like they are sleeping. A unique
property of dexmedetomidine is that patients
can be awoken and follow simple commands. Then the patient will go back to
being sedated. When the patient is not
stimulated, they will feel call and less
What are the side effects of dexmedetomidine?
Dexmedetomidine causes relatively few side
effects. It can cause a decrease in the heart rate or decrease in blood pressure, so the patient will be followed closely by the medical staff.
How long will dexmedetomidine be
The length of time the patient requires dexmedetomine will depend on their medical condition. The medical staff will regularly evaluate if the dexmedetomidine is still necessary.
If you have questions about dexmedetomidine or other questions relating to the patient’s care, please ask the staff in the intensive care unit.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 05/19/2010
Copyright © 05/19/2010 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7029
Print Health Fact For You