Dexmedetomidine has become a widely used drug in PICUs for sedation. We aim to determine the effects of clonidine on pediatric patients after dexmedetomidine use.
This was a retrospective cohort study that evaluated all pediatric patients admitted to a tertiary PICU who received dexmedetomidine infusion for >48 hours. Outcomes in patients exposed to clonidine (CLON) were compared with those of patients who were not exposed (NoCLON).
A total of 216 patients were included in this study (43 CLON and 173 NoCLON). The primary outcome, agitation, was less in the CLON cohort (9.3%) than in the NoCLON cohort (9.3% versus 29.5%, respectively; p < 0.01). Hospital LOS was longer in the CLON group (59 versus 20 days, p < 0.01), as was PICU LOS (37.4 versus 11.1 days, p < 0.01). There was no significant difference in the occurrence of increased heart rate or blood pressure between the 2 cohorts. Patients exposed to concurrent midazolam and opioid infusions had higher incidence of agitation when they did not receive clonidine (CLON 8% versus NoCLON 37%, OR 0.15; 95% CI, 0.05–0.51; p < 0.01). In contrast, there was no difference in the incidence of agitation for the CLON group versus the NoCLON group when dexmedetomidine was administered alone (25% versus 19%, OR 1.4; p = 0.99).
Our study confirms the importance and effectiveness of clonidine to treat agitation after dexmedetomidine discontinuation. A validated withdrawal scoring tool can help better define dexmedetomidine withdrawal in pediatric patients.