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Subcutaneous dexmedetomidine infusions to treat or prevent drug withdrawal in infants and children

Publication year
Tobias, J. D.

This retrospective study reports a cohort of pediatric patients in whom subcutaneous dexmedetomidine was used to treat or prevent drug withdrawal following prolonged sedation in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit setting. There were seven patients ranging in age from 6 months to 3.75 years and in weight from 4.8 to 17.7 kg. The dexmedetomidine infusion before switching to subcutaneous administration varied from 0.8 to 1.4 microg/kg/h. Four of the patients had received dexmedetomidine in conjunction with an opioid as part of a sedation regimen during mechanical ventilation. In these four patients, the duration of the intravenous dexmedetomidine infusion varied from 4 to 10 days. In the three other patients, an intravenous dexmedetomidine infusion was used to treat withdrawal following the prolonged use of an opioid and/or a benzodiazepine. In these three patients, the duration of the intravenous dexmedetomidine varied from 3 to 5 days. Following the switch to subcutaneous dexmedetomidine, the infusion was gradually decreased by 0.1 microg/kg/h every 12 h. Subcutaneous access was maintained, and subcutaneous dexmedetomidine was administered for 4 to 7 days. No problems with the subcutaneous access were noted during treatment. No patient exhibited behavior suggestive of withdrawal during the use of subcutaneous dexmedetomidine. The maximum modified Finnegan score in the seven patients varied from 3 to 7. Our preliminary experience suggests that dexmedetomidine can be administered by subcutaneous infusion without difficulty or alteration of its efficacy. This approach allows the administration of dexmedetomidine when peripheral venous access becomes problematic and may facilitate the removal of central venous catheters in patients recovering from critical illnesses. It also offers the possibility of using dexmedetomidine in settings where peripheral venous access is not available such as home palliative care.

Research abstracts