Effects of dexmedetomidine and propofol on lower esophageal sphincter and gastroesophageal pressure gradient in healthy volunteers

Alparslan Turan, John Wo, Yusuke Kasuya, Raghavendra Govinda, Ozan Akça, Jarrod E. Dalton, Daniel I. Sessler, Stefan Rauch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Background: Many anesthetics reduce lower esophageal sphincter pressure (LESP). Reduced pressure and consequent reduction in the gastroesophageal pressure gradient (GEPG) thus promotes gastroesophageal reflux and may contribute to aspiration pneumonia and associated morbidity. Therefore, the authors compared LESP and GEPG during dexmedetomidine and propofol sedation. Methods: Using a randomized, double-blind, crossover design, 11 healthy volunteers were sedated on 2 separate days. Baseline LESP and GEPG were recorded each day. Subsequently, on each day volunteers received three 40-min-long sedative infusions of increasing doses of 0.6, 1.2, and 2.4 ng/ml dexmedetomidine or 1, 2, and 4 μg/ml propofol. LESP and GEPG were recorded during inhalation and expiration at 20 and 40 min after starting each infusion phase, and these measurements were averaged. Results are presented as mean (95% confidence interval). Results: Two subjects did not return for the dexmedetomidine study day, and the dexmedetomidine Results were unusable in another; propofol Results in these volunteers were nonetheless retained for analysis. There were no significant differences in LESP and GEPG as a function of drug. However, there was a small but significant 7.4 (-1.6 to-13.2) mmHg (approximately 25%) dose-dependent decrease in LESP over the range of targeted low to high blood levels of each drug. Conclusions: Both dexmedetomidine and propofol have similar effects on LESP and GEPG. Although both of the drugs cause some decrease in LESP at high concentrations, it is unlikely that this effect would promote gastroesophageal reflux during sedation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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