Use of dexmedetomidine and opioids as the primary anesthetic in infants and young children: A retrospective cohort study

Proshad N. Efune, John M. Longanecker, Gijo Alex, Rita Saynhalath, Umar Khan, Kevin Rivera, Aveline P. Jerome, Weiwei Boone, Peter Szmuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Anesthetic regimens using dexmedetomidine and short-acting opioids have been suggested as potential alternatives to sevoflurane-based anesthesia in children. The primary aim of this study is to compare demographics, intraoperative characteristics, and complications of general anesthetics in which dexmedetomidine and opioids were used without sevoflurane, or in combination with a low sevoflurane concentration, in children 36 months old and younger. The secondary aim is to evaluate intraoperative bispectral index (BIS) values when available in these patients. Methods: General anesthetics performed between January 1, 2017, and May 1, 2018, in children 2 years and younger who received dexmedetomidine and remifentanil, with or without sevoflurane, were identified. Additional anesthetics performed during this time in children 36 months and younger who received dexmedetomidine and opioids and had BIS monitoring were also identified. Charts were reviewed for demographic and intraoperative variables, including drug administration and hemodynamic data. Results: A total of 244 patients were identified. All but 22 patients received remifentanil. Ninety-two patients received sevoflurane with a mean end-tidal concentration of 0.84% (SD 0.43). Compared to the sevoflurane group, the nonsevoflurane group received more remifentanil (median dose 0.4 μg/kg/min vs 0.2 μg/kg/min, difference of 0.1 μg/kg/min, 95% CI 0.1-0.3, P <.001) and more dexmedetomidine (median dose 0.9 μg/kg/h vs 0.3 μg/kg/h, difference of 0.6 μg/kg/h, 95% CI 0.4-0.8, P <.001), and had a higher mean arterial pressure (median 53 mm Hg vs 42 mm Hg, difference of 11 mm Hg, 95% CI 8.1-14.8, P <.001). Complications between the two groups were comparable. The median percent intraoperative time with BIS reading <60 was 71.6% (95% CI: 63.3%-79.8%). Conclusion: Dexmedetomidine and opioids can effectively be used in young children as an alternative total intravenous anesthesia technique with or without <1 minimum alveolar concentration of sevoflurane. Bispectral index monitoring reveals a likely sufficient depth of hypnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1019
Number of pages7
JournalPaediatric anaesthesia
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • TIVA
  • child < age
  • general anesthesia
  • infant < age
  • intravenous agents < drugs
  • neurodevelopment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of dexmedetomidine and opioids as the primary anesthetic in infants and young children: A retrospective cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this