The Impact of Sedative Choice on Intracranial and Systemic Physiology in Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury: A Scoping Review

Toby Jeffcote, Timothy Weir, James Anstey, Robert Mcnamara, Rinaldo Bellomo, Andrew Udy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Web of Science)


Although sedative use is near-ubiquitous in the acute management of moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (m-sTBI), the evidence base for these agents is undefined. This review summarizes the evidence for analgosedative agent use in the intensive care unit management of m-sTBI. Clinical studies of sedative and analgosedative agents currently utilized in adult m-sTBI management (propofol, ketamine, benzodiazepines, opioids, and alpha-2 agonists) were identified and assessed for relevance and methodological quality. The primary outcome was the effect of the analgosedative agent on intracranial pressure (ICP). Secondary outcomes included intracranial hemodynamic and metabolic parameters, systemic hemodynamic parameters, measures of therapeutic intensity, and clinical outcomes. Of 594 articles identified, 61 met methodological review criteria, and 40 were included in the qualitative summary; of these, 33 were prospective studies, 18 were randomized controlled trials, and 8 were blinded. There was consistent evidence for the efficacy of sedative agents in the management of m-sTBI and raised ICP, but the overall quality of the evidence was poor, consisting of small studies (median sample size, 23.5) of variable methodological quality. Propofol and midazolam achieve the goals of sedation without notable differences in efficacy or safety, although high-dose propofol may disrupt cerebral autoregulation. Dexmedetomidine and propofol/ dexmedetomidine combination may cause clinically significant hypotension. Dexmedetomidine was effective to achieve a target sedation score. De novo opioid boluses were associated with increased ICP and reduced cerebral perfusion pressure. Ketamine bolus and infusions were not associated with increased ICP and may reduce the incidence of cortical spreading depolarization events. In conclusion, there is a paucity of high-quality evidence to inform the optimal use of analgosedative agents in the management of m-sTBI, inferring significant scope for further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-273
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


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