Background: When chronic, excessive alcohol intake is abruptly halted, patients are at risk for developing life-threatening alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). Benzodiazepines have established efficacy, yet some patients' symptoms persist despite treatment with high doses.
Objectives: The study objective was to compare time to resolution of AWS symptoms in mechanically ventilated patients receiving propofol-containing versus benzodiazepine infusions.
Methods: This study was a retrospective cohort analysis of adult patients with ICD-9 codes for AWS who required mechanical ventilation for AWS symptoms.
Results: A total of 1637 records were reviewed, and 64 were included. Propofol-containing regimens were used in 46 cases (72%), whereas benzodiazepine infusion monotherapy accounted for 18 cases (28%). Patients were predominantly male (97%), with a mean age of 45 years. Lorazepam-equivalent benzodiazepine doses given prior to intubation were greater in patients receiving propofol infusion (56 vs 15 mg, P = .03). Time to resolution of AWS symptoms for propofol- and benzodiazepine-treated patients was 8 and 7 days, respectively (P = .34). Median hospital and intensive care unit lengths of stay were similar (9 vs 10 days and 4 vs 4 days, respectively; P > .05 for both comparisons), as were days of mechanical ventilation (4 vs 3 days, P = .98). Patients in the benzodiazepine infusion monotherapy group required numerically increased amounts of benzodiazepine bolus doses while on continuous sedation, compared with patients receiving propofol infusion (36 vs 10 mg, P = .06).
Conclusions: Propofol and Benzodiazepine-treated patients with AWS requiring mechanical ventilation experienced similar days of AWS symptoms, length of stay, and mechanical ventilation.
Keywords: alcohol withdrawal syndrome; benzodiazepines; delirium tremens; intensive care unit; mechanically ventilated; propofol; resolution of symptoms.