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Dexmedetomidine affects cerebral activity in preterm infants


The use of dexmedetomidine (DEX) has been extended in preterm newborns, but the effects on cerebral activity and their relationship with haemodynamic changes has not been studied.

We retrospectively studied the effects of DEX administered to 10 preterm newborns, assessing amplitude-integrated EEG (aEEG) parameters, brain regional SO2 (brSO2), heart rate, non-invasive mean blood pressure (MBP), transcutaneous oxygen saturation (SpO2), venous pCO2 and haemoglobin (Hb) values, in two 6-hour periods: one starting 6 hours before the beginning of DEX perfusion and the other 6 hours afterwards.

DEX infusion led to brSO2 decrease not associated to heart rate, MBP, SpO2, Hb or pCO2 variation, which suggests that brSO2 decrease could be related to local vasoconstriction. DEX infusion led to prolongation of interburst interval and reduction of cycling. Such effects, not been described so far, should be considered in the assessment of aEEG traces after DEX administration to avoid misinterpretations regarding patient’s prognosis. More studies are needed to assess the safety of DEX use in the newborn.

  • Neonatology
  • Neurology
  • Intensive Care Units, Paediatric
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Pain

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