Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Systematic Review

Dexmedetomidine reduces postoperative cognitive and behavioral dysfunction in adults submitted to general anesthesia for non-cardiac surgery: meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

Catia Sousa Govêia, Denismar Borges de Miranda, Lucas Valente de Brito Oliveira, Felícia Benevides Praxedes, Larissa Govêia Moreira, Gabriel Magalhães Nunes Guimarães

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Introduction and objectives Dexmedetomidine (DEX) have been associated with a decrease in postoperative cognitive and behavioral dysfunction in patients submitted to general anesthesia, whether inhalation or total intravenous anesthesia. Consequently, the DEX effects on postoperative agitation and delirium in patients submitted to general anesthesia for non-cardiac surgery have been investigated.

We performed a meta-analysis of randomized and double-blind clinical trials assessing adults submitted to elective procedures under general anesthesia that received DEX or placebo. We searched articles published in English in the Pubmed and Web of Science databases using keywords such as dexmedetomidine, delirium, and agitation. We excluded duplicate publications, studies involving cardiac surgery or that used active control (other than saline solution). A random effects model was adopted using the DerSimonian-Laird method and estimate of Odds Ratio (OR) for dichotomous variables, and weighted mean difference for continuous variables, with their respective 95% Confidence Intervals (95% CI).

Of the 484 articles identified, 15 were selected comprising 2,183 patients (1,079 and 1,104 patients in the DEX and control group, respectively). The administration of DEX was considered a protective factor for postoperative cognitive and behavioral dysfunction (OR = 0.36; 95% CI 0.23–0.57 and p < 0.001), regardless of the anesthesia technique used.

Dexmedetomidine administration reduced by at least 43% the likelihood of postoperative cognitive and behavioral dysfunction in adult patients submitted to general anesthesia for non-cardiac surgery.


Dexmedetomidine;  Delirium;  Psychomotor agitation;  General anesthesia;  Meta-analysis


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