UMEM Educational Pearls

Dexmedetomidine for Sedation in Acute Neurologic Disease

  • Critically Ill patients with acute neurologic disease are managed daily in the ED.
  • Due to the need for frequent neurologic assessments, these patients can be challenging should they require sedation.
  • Dexmedetomidine, a selective alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonist, has emerged as an alternative to traditional sedatives (i.e. opioids and benzodiazepines).
  • Dexmedetomidine provides sedation and anxiolysis, while producing little effect on level of arousal and cognitive function.  In essence, it reduces discomfort while permitting the patient to arouse for a neurologic examination.


Mirski MA, Lewin JL. Sedation and analgesia in acute neurologic disease. Curr Opin Crit Care 2010; 16:81-91