Propofol Dosing Regimens for ICU Sedation Based upon an Integrated Pharmacokinetic– Pharmacodynamic Model

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BackgroundThe pharmacology of propofol infusions administered for long-term sedation of intensive care unit (ICU) patients has not been fully characterized. The aim of the study was to develop propofol dosing guidelines for ICU sedation based on an integrated pharmacokinetic–pharmacodynamic model of propofol infusions in ICU patients.MethodsWith Institutional Review Board approval, 30 adult male medical and surgical ICU patients were given target-controlled infusions of propofol for sedation, adjusted to maintain a Ramsay sedation scale score of 2–5. Propofol administration in the first 20 subjects was based on a previously derived pharmacokinetic model for propofol. The last 10 subjects were given propofol based on a pharmacokinetic model derived from the first 20 subjects. Plasma propofol concentrations were measured, together with sedation score. Population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic parameters were estimated by means of nonlinear regression analysis in the first 20 subjects, then prospectively tested in the last 10 subjects. An integrated pharmacokinetic–pharmacodynamic model was used to construct dosing regimens for light and deep sedation with propofol in ICU patients.ResultsThe pharmacokinetics of propofol were described by a three-compartment model with lean body mass and fat body mass as covariates. The pharmacodynamics of propofol were described by a sigmoid model, relating the probability of sedation to plasma propofol concentration. The pharmacodynamic model for propofol predicted light and deep levels of sedation with 73% accuracy. Plasma propofol concentrations corresponding to the probability modes for sedation scores of 2, 3, 4, and 5 were 0.25, 0.6, 1.0, and 2.0 μg/ml. Predicted emergence times in a typical subject after 24 h, 72 h, 7 days, and 14 days of light sedation (sedation score = 3 → 2) with propofol were 13, 34, 198, and 203 min, respectively. Corresponding emergence times from deep sedation (sedation score = 5 → 2) with propofol were 25, 59, 71, and 74 h.ConclusionsEmergence time from sedation with propofol in ICU patients varies with the depth of sedation, the duration of sedation, and the patient’s body habitus. Maintaining a light level of sedation ensures a rapid emergence from sedation with long-term propofol administration.

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