Study objective Some outpatient procedures are performed under sedation with dexmedetomidine, although the effect of dexmedetomidine on cognitive function remains unclear. This study investigated the effect of dexmedetomidine on cognitive function in healthy volunteers. Design Observation study in volunteers. Setting University-affiliated teaching hospital. Patients Six healthy volunteers. Interventions After infusion of a 6-μg/kg per hour loading dose of dexmedetomidine for 10 minutes, a maintenance infusion of 0.4 μg/kg per hour was administered for 4 hours. Measurements Cognitive function was evaluated before infusion (baseline) and at 2, 4, 6, and 8 hours after infusion. Cognitive function, response speed, accuracy, and consistency were measured by CogHealth. Depth of sedation was evaluated at 1-hour intervals by evaluating the Bispectral Index. Data are presented as the change from baseline. Main results The Bispectral Index value was significantly lower from 10 minutes to 6 hours after infusion versus the pre-infusion value. Response speed was also significantly lower at 2 hours and 4 hours after infusion (92 ± 8%, P<.0001; 93 ± 6%, P<.0001), as was consistency (96 ± 7%, P=.0009; 96 ± 5%, P=.0003). Response accuracy was unaltered by the infusion. Conclusions Dexmedetomidine slightly reduced response speed and consistency, but did not affect response accuracy. Cognitive function was restored to pre-administration values 2 hours after the infusion of dexmedetomidine was discontinued.
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