Dexmedetomidine in prevention and treatment of postoperative and intensive care unit delirium: a systematic review and meta-analysis

This article by Flukiger et al was published in Annals of intensive care September 2018.
Background:  To determine the preventive and therapeutic effect of dexmedetomidine on intensive care unit (ICU) delirium.
Methods:  The literature search using PubMed and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials was performed (August 1, 2018) to detect all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of adult ICU patients receiving dexmedetomidine. Articles were included if they assessed the influence of dexmedetomidine compared to a sedative agent on incidence of ICU delirium or treatment of this syndrome. Accordingly, relevant articles were allocated to the following two groups: (1) articles that assessed the delirium incidence (incidence comparison) or articles that assessed the treatment of delirium (treatment comparison). Incidence of delirium and delirium resolution were the primary outcomes. We combined treatment effects comparing dexmedetomidine versus (1) placebo, (2) standard sedatives, and (3) opioids in random-effects meta-analyses. Risk of bias for each included RCT was assessed following Cochrane standards.
Results:  The literature search resulted in 28 articles (25 articles/4975 patients for the incidence comparison and three articles/166 patients for the treatment comparison). In the incidence comparison, heterogeneity was present in different subgroups. Administration of dexmedetomidine was associated with significantly lower overall incidence of delirium when compared to placebo (RR 0.52; 95% CI 0.39-0.70; I2 = 37%), standard sedatives (RR 0.63; 95% CI 0.46-0.86; I2 = 69%), as well as to opioids (RR 0.61; 95% CI 0.44-0.83; I2 = 0%). Use of dexmedetomidine significantly increased the risks of bradycardia and hypotension. Limited data were available on circulatory insufficiency and mortality. In the treatment comparison, the comparison drugs in the three RCTs were placebo, midazolam, and haloperidol. The resolution of delirium was measured differently in each study. Two out of the three studies indicated clear favorable effects for dexmedetomidine (i.e., compared to placebo and midazolam). The study comparing dexmedetomidine with haloperidol was a pilot study (n = 20) with high variability in the results.
Conclusions:  Findings suggest that dexmedetomidine reduces incidence and duration of ICU delirium. Furthermore, our systematic searches show that there is limited evidence if a delirium shall be treated with dexmedetomidine.
The full text of the article is available via this link.

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