Dexmedetomidine is a relatively new sedative that is promoted as having minimal effects on the ventilatory drive or the propensity for airway obstruction. However, a recent trial demonstrated impaired ventilatory drive and induction of apnea in sedated volunteers. This nonblinded, randomized crossover study examined 9 nonsmoking adults between the ages of 18 and 65 with American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status 1 or 2 and a body mass index of 37 or less. Upper airway collapsibility was measured during low and moderate infusion rates of propofol or dexmedetomidine to produce comparable levels of minimal to moderate sedation. The level of sedation was monitored with bispectral index recordings, electroencephalogram recordings, and 2 clinical sedation scales at discrete points in time and correlated with blood plasma levels of propofol or dexmedetomidine. At comparable levels of minimal and moderate sedation, both drugs produced...

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