Awake intubation under sedation using target-controlled infusion of dexmedetomidine: five case reports.
ABSTRACT We used target-controlled infusion (TCI) of dexmedetomidine (DEX) for awake intubation under sedation in 5 patients who had a risk of pulmonary aspiration or difficult airway. Dexmedetomidine level was escalated stepwise until the patients developed tolerance to laryngoscopy. The target DEX concentrations at the time of intubation were 2.10-5.95 ng/ml and were higher than those clinically used for sedation in the intensive care unit (ICU). Chin lift was applied in 1 case, and therefore no assisted ventilation was required and pulse oxygen saturation was maintained at >98% throughout the procedure. Simple pharmacological interventions for blood pressure changes induced by increased target plasma DEX concentrations were needed in 4 cases. However, hemodynamics was stable, and no cardiovascular drug was needed after tracheal intubation. Conditions at laryngoscopy were excellent in all cases, and conditions at tracheal intubation were good except in 1 case. Reflex to intubation was preserved in all cases, and coughing was observed in all cases. The patients had no memory of discomfort and/or intubation. Although further investigations are needed, this method may be useful for awake intubation under sedation.