Volatile Anesthetics. Is a New Player Emerging in Critical Care Sedation?

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Abstract

Volatile anesthetic agent use in the intensive care unit, aided by technological advances, has become more accessible to critical care physicians. With increasing concern over adverse patient consequences associated with our current sedation practice, there is growing interest to find non-benzodiazepine-based alternative sedatives. Research has demonstrated that volatile-based sedation may provide superior awakening and extubation times in comparison with current intravenous sedation agents (propofol and benzodiazepines). Volatile agents may possess important end-organ protective properties mediated via cytoprotective and antiinflammatory mechanisms. However, like all sedatives, volatile agents are capable of deeply sedating patients, which can have respiratory depressant effects and reduce patient mobility. This review seeks to critically appraise current volatile use in critical care medicine including current research, technical consideration of their use, contraindications, areas of controversy, and proposed future research topics.

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