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, 58 (1), 65-71

Clinical Patterns of Continuous and Intermittent Palliative Sedation in Patients With Terminal Cancer: A Descriptive, Observational Study

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Clinical Patterns of Continuous and Intermittent Palliative Sedation in Patients With Terminal Cancer: A Descriptive, Observational Study

Young-Woong Won et al. J Pain Symptom Manage.

Abstract

Context: Limited information is available regarding the detailed clinical patterns of palliative sedation (PS), that is, the symptom control rate, salvage medication, and the effectiveness of intermittent PS (IPS) versus continuous PS (CPS).

Objectives: The primary aim was to investigate clinical outcomes of PS in a real clinical setting.

Methods: Clinical information was prospectively collected for patients who were treated according to a prescribed protocol and assessment tools in a hospice unit affiliated with a tertiary cancer center between September 2015 and March 2017. Data were analyzed retrospectively. Midazolam was used as the first medication for PS, and propofol and phenobarbital were subsequently used as salvage medications. Indications of PS, the depth of sedation, the quality of sleep, and the level of consciousness were assessed.

Results: A total of 306 patients were enrolled, 89 of whom (29.1%) received PS. No difference in survival time was found between patients with and without PS (median survival, 34.0 vs 25.0 days, P = 0.109). Delirium was the most common indication of PS. The symptoms of 73 (82.0%) of 89 patients with PS were relieved with midazolam. Twelve (75.0%) of 16 midazolam-failure patients responded to propofol, five of whom (31%) exhibited respiratory depression. Of the 89 patients receiving PS, 61 (68.5%) received IPS and 28 patients (31.5%) received CPS. The median survival times from PS initiation to death were six days in the IPS group and one day in the CPS group (P < 0.001). Interestingly, consciousness levels were significantly improved after IPS in the delirium group compared with those in the other group (41.7% vs 16.7%, P = 0.002).

Conclusion: The refractory symptoms of end-of-life patients with cancer can ultimately be relieved with various medications for PS. IPS may improve the consciousness level of patients with delirium.

Keywords: Sedatives; continuous palliative sedation; intermittent palliative sedation; survival.

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