Dexmedetomidine in the Treatment of Withdrawal Syndromes in Cardiothoracic Surgery Patients

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Dexmedetomidine (Precedex, Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL) is an α2 adrenergic agonist that possesses a high ratio of specificity for the α2 versus the α1 receptor. It is currently approved for the provision of sedation during mechanical ventilation in adults. Given previous experience with clonidine for the treatment of substance withdrawal and the preliminary anecdotal experience with dexmedetomidine, it appears that dexmedetomidine may be a useful agent for treatment of substance withdrawal in the intensive care setting. The authors present their experience with the use of dexmedetomidine to control withdrawal behavior in 3 patients following cardiothoracic surgery. Previous reports regarding the use of dexmedetomidine to treat withdrawal and its potential application in this clinical arena are reviewed.

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