In this study, we questioned whether propofol provided clinical benefits compared with midazolam in terms of neuropsychometric recovery, safety profile and patient tolerance. Patients, aged >18 yrs, were randomised to receive midazolam or propofol, given by non-anaesthetist physicians to achieve moderate levels of sedation as assessed by the electroencephalographic bispectral index (BIS; between 70 and 85). The primary end-point was the time delay until recovery of the BIS above 90. Other end-points included a neuropsychometric continuous performance test (CPT), serious respiratory adverse events, patient tolerance and physician satisfaction. Neuropsychometric recovery was improved in the propofol compared to the midazolam group as evidenced by faster normalisation of BIS index (5.4+/-4.7 min versus 11.7+/-10.2 min; p = 0.001) and better results at the CPT. In the midazolam group, 15% of patients presented profound sedation precluding CPT completion and one patient required mechanical ventilatory support. Patient tolerance was significantly better in the propofol group, whereas the operator's assessment was comparable in both groups. Compared with midazolam, propofol provided a higher quality of sedation in terms of neuropsychometric recovery and patient tolerance. BIS-guided propofol administration represents a safe sedation technique that can be performed by the non-anaesthesiologist.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00839371.