Feasibility of measuring memory response to increasing dexmedetomidine sedation in children

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Background. The memory effect of dexmedetomidine has not been prospectively evaluated in children. We evaluated the feasibility of measuring memory and sedation responses in children during dexmedetomidine sedation for non-painful radiological imaging studies. Secondarily, we quantified changes in memory in relation to the onset of sedation.

Methods. A 10 min bolus of dexmedetomidine (2 mcg kg-1) was given to children as they named simple line drawings every five s. The absence of sedation was identified as any verbal response, regardless of correctness. After recovery, recognition memory was tested with correct Yes/No recognitions (50% novel pictures) and was matched to sedation responses during the bolus period (subsequent memory paradigm).

Results. Of 64 accruals, 30 children (mean [SD]6.1 (1.2) yr, eight male) received dexmedetomidine and completed all study tasks. Individual responses were able to be modelled successfully in the 30 children completing all the study tasks, demonstrating feasibility of this approach. Children had 50% probability of verbal response at five min 40 s after infusion start, whereas 50% probability of subsequent recognition memory occurred sooner at four min five s.

Conclusions. Quantifying memory and sedation effects during dexmedetomidine infusion in verbal children was possible and demonstrated that memory function was present until shortly before verbal unresponsiveness occurred. This is the first study to investigate the effect of dexmedetomidine on memory in children.

Clinical trial registration. NCT 02354378.

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