Int J Med Sci 2022; 19(11):1631-1637. doi:10.7150/ijms.76495 This issue

Research Paper

Effects of Dexmedetomidine on Diaphragm Activity Measured by Ultrasonography in Spontaneously Breathing Patients

Hye Joo Yun, Dakyung Hong, Sung Jun Kim, Hye Won Chung, Hyun Sik Chung

Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Eunpyeong St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea

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Yun HJ, Hong D, Kim SJ, Chung HW, Chung HS. Effects of Dexmedetomidine on Diaphragm Activity Measured by Ultrasonography in Spontaneously Breathing Patients. Int J Med Sci 2022; 19(11):1631-1637. doi:10.7150/ijms.76495. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Background: Diaphragm movement is well correlated with inspired volume of the lung. Dexmedetomidine (DEX) has less effect on respiratory functions than other sedatives. The objective of this study was to investigate diaphragmatic movement using ultrasound (US) during DEX infusion for sedation in spontaneously breathing patients undergoing unilateral upper limb surgery.

Methods: A total of 33 consecutive patients were enrolled in this study. Patients were sedated using DEX with ipsilateral axillary brachial nerve plexus block. Diaphragmatic activity was evaluated using diaphragmatic thickening at end-inspiration (TEI), diaphragmatic thickening at end-expiration (TEE), and diaphragmatic thickening fraction (DTF) measured by diaphragmatic US at three time-points; T0, baseline; T1, after DEX sedation; and T2, after DEX recovery. Supplementary oxygen was applied with a simple mask at 5 L/min. Peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2), end tidal CO2 (EtCO2), and respiratory rate (RR) were recorded.

Results: TEI and TEE showed no significant changes during the study period (P = 0.394 and P = 0.205, respectively). DTF was maintained at both T0 and T1 (P = 1.000). At recovery after DEX infusion discontinued, DTF was increased by 3.85%, although such increase was not statistically significant (T0 vs. T2, P = 0.525). SpO2 remained above 99% and EtCO2 remained below 36 mmHg. Desaturation episodes were not observed during the study period.

Conclusions: Results of this study showed that DEX sedation did not affect the diaphragmatic movement in situation of decreased RR induced by DEX. This finding implies that DEX-induced sedation does not result in clinically significant respiratory depression.

Keywords: Dexmedetomidine, Deep sedation, Diaphragm, Respiratory complication, Respiratory muscles, Ultrasonography.