Dexmedetomidine decreases cerebral blood flow velocity in humans

Mark H. Zornow, Mervyn Maze, J. Barry Dyck, Steven L. Shafer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


This study was designed to determine the effects of dexmedetomidine on CBF velocity as measured by transcranial Doppler sonography in human volunteers. Dexmedetomidine, a potent a-2 adrenergic agonist, was administered by computer-driven infusion pump to six male volunteers. Serial measurements of middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity at four steady-state plasma concentrations of dexmedetomidine were made with a 2-MHz transcranial Doppler transducer via the temporal window. The targeted plasma concentrations were 0.49, 0.65, 0.81, and 0.97 ng/ml. These represent 60, 80, 100, and 120%, respectively, of the mean peak concentration following the intramuscular administration of 2 μg/kg of dexmedetomidine. Subjects experienced a significant degree of sedation at the highest infusion rates. Mean CBF velocity decreased with each increase in plasma concentration of dexmedetomidine and then began to return to basal levels after termination of the infusion. A trend toward an increase in the pulsatility index at the higher levels of dexmedetomidine suggests that the observed decrement in CBF velocity was due to an increase in cerebral vascular resistance. Upon initiation of the drug infusion, mean arterial pressure decreased from ∼95 mm Hg to 78 mm Hg. There were no further decreases in arterial pressure with subsequent increases in plasma concentrations of dexmedetomidine. Arterial carbon dioxide tension increased to a maximum of 45 mm Hg during the drug infusion, but this increase from baseline was not statistically significant. These studies are in agreement with previous animal studies which demonstrate a decrease in CBF after administration of dexmedetomidine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-353
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • 2 adrenergic agonist
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Dexmedetomidine
  • Human
  • Sympathetic nervous system
  • Transcranial Doppler
  • α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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