A comparison of the effectiveness of dexmedetomidine versus propofol target-controlled infusion for sedation during fibreoptic nasotracheal intubation

Anaesthesia. 2010 Mar;65(3):254-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2009.06226.x. Epub 2010 Jan 22.


Fibreoptic intubation is a valuable modality for airway management. This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of dexmedetomidine vs target controlled propofol infusion in providing sedation during fibreoptic intubation. Forty patients with anticipated difficult airways and due to undergo tracheal intubation for elective surgery were enrolled and randomly allocated into the dexmedetomidine group (1.0 microg.kg(-1) over 10 min) (n = 20) or the propofol target controlled infusion group (n = 20). Intubating conditions and patient tolerance as graded by a scoring system were evaluated as primary outcomes. Intubation was successful in all patients. Satisfactory intubating conditions were found in both groups (19/20 in each group). The median (IOR [range]) comfort score was 2 (1-2 [1-4]) in the dexmedetomidine group and 3 (2-4 [2-5]) in the propofol group (p = 0.027), favouring the former. The dexmedetomidine group experienced fewer airway events and less heart rate response to intubation than the propofol group (p < 0.003 and p = 0.007, respectively). Both dexmedetomidine and propofol target-controlled infusion are effective for fibreoptic intubation. Dexmedetomidine allows better tolerance, more stable haemodynamic status and preserves a patent airway.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Conscious Sedation / methods*
  • Dexmedetomidine / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Fiber Optic Technology
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Cavity
  • Propofol / administration & dosage*


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Dexmedetomidine
  • Propofol