Purpose: This study evaluated the impact of dexmedetomidine (DEX) administration on benzodiazepine (BZD) requirements in intensive care unit (ICU) patients experiencing alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS).
Methods: This trial included adults admitted to the ICU for >24 hours for AWS. Early DEX was defined as receiving DEX within 60 hours of hospital admission. The primary outcome was 12-hour BZD requirement from the inflection point or DEX initiation. Secondary outcomes included 24-hour BZD requirements, symptom control, ICU and hospital length of stay, and incidence and duration of mechanical ventilation. Safety outcomes included incidence of bradycardia and hypotension.
Results: Twenty patients receiving DEX were matched to 22 control patients. The mean 12-hour change in BZD requirement was significantly different for DEX versus control (-20 vs -8.3 mg, P = .0455) with a trend toward significance at 24 hours (-29.6 vs -11 mg, P = .06). No significant differences were noted in other secondary outcomes. Patients receiving DEX experienced significantly more bradycardia than controls (35% vs 0%, P < .01) but not hypotension.
Conclusions: This study suggests DEX is associated with a reduction in BZD requirement when utilized as adjunctive therapy for AWS. A larger prospective trial is needed to evaluate the clinical impact of DEX for AWS.
Keywords: alcohol withdrawal; benzodiazepines; critical illness; dexmedetomidine.
© The Author(s) 2014.