Efficacy of dexmedetomidine compared with midazolam for sedation in adult intensive care patients: A systematic review

R. Adams, G. T. Brown, M. Davidson, E. Fisher, J. Mathisen, G. Thomson, N. R. Webster*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Patients in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) often require sedatives which commonly include midazolam and the more recently developed α2-receptor agonist, dexmedetomidine. It was our aim to compare the sedative and clinical effectiveness of dexmedetomidine vs midazolam in adults admitted to ICU, using an objective appraisal of randomized control trials. Medline, Embase, SCOPUS, Web of Knowledge, Cinhal, the United States National Library of Medicine, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched using keywords: 'dexmedetomidine', 'midazolam', and 'intensive care'. These were limited to human studies and adults (>18 yr old). Six randomized controlled trials were found and were critically appraised using a standardized appraisal method. Two papers described the time spent by each intervention group within a specified target sedation range and both found no statistically significant difference between midazolam and dexmedetomidine (P=0.18 and P=0.15). A third paper found no statistically significant difference in the length of time that patients were sedated within a target zone (P=0.445). Two additional pilot studies did not report P values as they were insufficiently statistically powered. A final paper found that, of the eight occasions measured, patients on dexmedetomidine were more often within the target sedation range than patients on midazolam. The sedative benefits of dexmedetomidine vs midazolam remain inconclusive. While some secondary outcomes showed clinical effectiveness of dexmedetomidine, more research is needed to validate the findings of these studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-710
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number5
Early online date7 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • dexmedetomidine
  • intensive care unit
  • midazolam
  • sedation


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