Effect of Intraoperative Dexmedetomidine on Postoperative Recovery Profile of Children Undergoing Surgery for Spinal Dysraphism

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Smooth recovery from anesthesia is desirable in children undergoing surgery for spinal dysraphism who are nursed in prone position during the postoperative period. Dexmedetomidine may be beneficial in these children owing to its sedative, anxiolytic, and opioid-sparing properties with minimal respiratory depression.


Thirty-six children with spinal dysraphism at lumbosacral area, aged 8 to 12 years, undergoing corrective surgery were randomized to receive either dexmedetomidine or volume-matched saline (placebo) after positioned prone until beginning of skin closure. Inspired concentration of sevoflurane was changed to keep the bispectral index score between 45 and 55. Perioperative hemodynamics, intraoperative fentanyl and sevoflurane consumption, and postoperative recovery profile and fentanyl consumption was observed by blinded observers. Postoperative pain, emergence agitation (EA), and discharge readiness from postanesthesia care unit was evaluated using the modified objective pain score, agitation Cole score, and modified Aldrete score, respectively. Fentanyl 0.5-1 µg/kg was administered for pain (objective pain score ≥4) or severe EA (agitation Cole score ≥4) lasting for >5 minutes.


The 2 groups did not differ significantly with respect to demographics, duration of anesthesia, emergence, and extubation times. The intraoperative consumption of sevoflurane and fentanyl was significantly less in dexmedetomidine group (0.2±0.1 vs. 0.3±0.1 mL/min, P<0.0001 and 2.3±0.5 vs. 3.1±0.6 μg/kg, P=0.0001, respectively), along with a lower mean heart rate (P<0.001). The mean systolic blood pressure (P=0.98) and incidence of bradycardia and hypotension was comparable in between the 2 groups. Postoperatively, the children in dexmedetomidine group had significantly lower pain scores (P<0.0001), agitation scores (P<0.0001), and time to achieve full modified Aldrete score [0 (0 to 10) vs. 10 (0 to 20) min, P=0.001]. The postoperative consumption of fentanyl was significantly less in dexmedetomidine group [0 (0 to 1.04) vs. 0.88 (0 to 3) µg/kg, P=0.003], along with a longer time of first analgesic requirement [600 (5 to 2100) vs. 5 (5 to 185) min, P=0.0001]. The mean heart rate and systolic blood pressure were higher in placebo group (P<0.001), whereas no difference was observed in respiratory rate (P=0.73) and arterial oxygen saturation (P=0.36). The number of patients with postoperative nausea and vomiting was significantly lower in dexmedetomidine group [2 (11.1%) vs. 9 (50%), P=0.03].


Intraoperative use of dexmedetomidine in children undergoing spinal surgery results in a favorable recovery profile with reduced postoperative pain and EA, without adverse perioperative hemodynamic effects.

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